An Interrogation, San Miniato
When you sleep in the palace I count imaginary explosions
When you wake between hours look out at sand become sky
become an inverse of dark
When you lace unlace your boots
When I try to write this scene how
When you see night sun spades across my window
When I am always asking
one sheep two sheep three sheep four
When does the mind turn
When tent flaps tent pegs Bunker down now When goldflecked
trim mosaic dreams
When you realize how much is uncertain
When you reach out for evaporates
When (sieve this part through the hourglass)
When you left an address of numbers
When you left Syrup drizzled stacks in an I-45 diner and parking lot goodbye
When you left to make death with your hands
When I thought about locking you in the men's room
When that was breakfast
When could I say could you stay
When I have lost
When you left imagined sand and shrapnel
When sweat If wait
When open the letter
When tape the postcard to the mirror
When don't reread the postcard
When you write don't write Write
Desert spreads a plain of hidden waters If you’re not born here you have a false sense of yearning You wonder Tic off days How many times could you refill the hourglass Everywhere sand blown over asphalt through palace arches How deep How long
When whatever wakes you
When rats crawl through holes in the Great Room floor and into your shoes/sleep/fist
When soccer game makes gun barrel happy
When you didn't know there was anything to celebrate
When the presidential residence was bombed again the army moved in to rebuild This is all the
information I could find except for one clip on amenities Coca Cola
Flat Screen Rat Traps Plugs
When your company name on YouTube sixteen videos and caliber soundtrack
Phones unringing for weeks
When the palace pool made the papers it still held water You wrote once
it had to be emptied
When the urge to call you usually a Sunday but
When I ask is it clear I'm trying to know into this north
When no answer No
When one thing (again) the inverse of another
When load implies unload and reload so undo
when pray always
unsleep sanddeep roadheap hand
Considering the absence of the familiar sparrow
When press unpress a button
When who called this Paradise Who said any of this was okay When I'd like a word please
I'd like to speak to your god now
When we didn't say
When you couldn't tell
We first came here disguised as water Slipped secrets into the dunes which is why
sometimes a soldier here dreams mud confused between dry air and tank turrets We
were never here to shoot raindrops It's been raining all month in this desert Some of
us still haven't seen the river
When I regret my head fills with silt
When memory tugs
When fight off cerebral
When Playstation fried chicken white flags I've done nothing
Then beauty a soldier in BDUs turns his holster toward the mirror
Then fear the people who count keep lists of bodies and troops with various degrees of
When Yes I know why you're there and
aware I'm losing track of your secrets
When When When
curfew good kiss your wife
City of Two Springs
When in the rain last June Red-coated cars The cabbie explained was the desert pouring down
But it wasn't your sand
When you answer
When the hour is finished turn it over
When when is a substitute for if
When home under the helmet
When or maybe I'm asking
Who will you be when you've done what you've done
Why I've been writing letters to the hereafter
Which history are you in and Is there a history
you hide from or holds you
When something is certain steel on skin
sand on chin
When I've secretly admired the camouflage tucked into your boots
When when means consequence
When consequence is a consequence of consequence
When sandstorm protocol and what is the word for this
When speak sawafi eyes closed
When I want to ask the numbers
When in the place you lie called Paradise sand splits open to green Pearl of the North I've read of
your springs I've wondered into the Linking Point
Have I glorified the soldier
Who sleeps unwanting desert
Whose pain which clouds erupted
into one singe two singe three singe score
When words are insufficient keep writing
When the word isn't right pain burned pain pieces pain shock pain see unfolding
When the hour is finished the sky sheared
But I sleep the marble halls of oasis Have seen the river touch a thousand answers
Yes I recognize the histories Can I admit Afraid to listen You know these grains hold
the river like the past and passing It is a history of shifting dunes Sudden verdure A
history of eyelids of prayer of footsteps Welcome to the history of bullets Manmade
clouds Welcome to the sheep I sleep into
When you start to count the days they say you've lost it
When that was my voice up there
When could I ever know what you'd say
When is after
When and every other unrecantable
When you call nightshift
When I wonder where you shave razor color tiled wall or tilted mirror (of nostalgia of
unnumbered last glances) and
how hot which bullets who fires and
I would undo all of this and have done nothing
When I begin to multiply your boots
When dune when moon
When dazehaze sheepsleep boomroom homedrone tongueshunned say it Say it
When you call I'm on the road again another visit home near that diner
What can I say
(I watch the news)
(I move your picture among the cards on my desk)
There came a point
when I stopped asking
When to say
When Say it
The cathedral explodes in the widening eyes
of mid-morning. It happens again, you can watch
the fissure rise. I haven't
seen; have only heard—gathered
inside, they waited for days. In the rubble,
counted: one to fifty-two.
The planes long since gone.
The inside out again.
The woman holds a wooden figurine,
her war the paradox in her fist.
Reenactment, a glassless
greenhouse, a missing wall.
The survivors remember
Stone steps lead to the road
renamed: via vittime del duomo.
I've only read of shrapnel, of the possibility
that the memory is wrong.
They made a movie of this.
In the movie, it's possible the wrong truth got told.
July 22, 1944. I wasn't born yet.
I was never born there.
Now—is it aftermath or grief—rests
an empty chair at the table.
The woman, today, sits in that chair
carving the figurine into the air in the room.
If you ask her, she doesn't say I am the daughter
of the war. She says I am holding
the egret he shaped with his hands.
She says When I ran out, I saw a woman burst
between two pews. This is something
I still see like I'm racing toward the piazza.
Name her survivor and you mold her
as past—as whose? Glass
shattered by reverberations
cuts a past tense refuge
in the ribboned town. It crumbles
and not, chips quiet from rafters.
Who flew over
written on the plaque—
day cemented, explosion
engraved in the main square. Two old men
lug jugs of water, their knowing
backs to the smoking façade.
So here: I'll never know her. I may let her represent
too much of it for me.
Because I met the war sixty years later,
I tried to join the distant
pieces: high stone walls, slumped
bodies, black click of boots. I thought it was
dirt floor and chicory coffee—a hardened
mouth, tongue tickling lips, ready
to speak. I memorized
bombardamento, massacro—traced their shape
on my ear.
Io lo dissi subito: sono morti tutti. La trovai
tutta sangue, tra il sangue che c'era d'intorno.
I found her, all blood,
in all the blood around her.
I have complicated things.
Tried to give her a long key, train tracks
and a river, I've tried to move the woman
to a city where I know the stagger
of a bombed out building. Would I believe her
anywhere—would I ask—
but her weathered hands fold,
blued and taut, histories
within histories she doesn’t hold—
she wasn't born there.
She never went. I place her back
in the town square. We watch
the church, her shoulders
shake at its rumble.
I set her down in her house,
in the empty chair.
I read the reports. There was nowhere
else, they knelt and slept.
Then the locked doors.
The first dust falling.
One truth hers; one nailed
to the wall. Maybe not
the same. Maybe nothing
to do with each other. Or the street
turning back: Victims
of the cathedral.
To question the imbedded
metal shard is to ask who
instead of what, or how
or how long. Watch her turn
over in her hands. Watch
her, she carries
so much, she recalls