I can remember the flint that precedes me
         and how the inlets wrapped their knots

inside me, but Father—I never bleed over these
         fevers and wings we have no names for.

Spade, stone, and marrow pattern the fields
         you walk through, reeds stalk

the river, and you can’t close your faulting
         eyes—tonight the bridges release all

the suspension crouched in their knuckles;
         binges hide under windows, and you

forward your limbs to the farthest phantoms:
         like a kindle of twigs, you buried your palms

in the dust—you removed a splinter and stars
         melted down your arms—but you can’t deliver us.

You’re trapped in this orbit and now the circuits are dying
         inside of you. In spite of you I’ll buy your red suit

plus another red suit: one for burning during
         your funeral and the other to cover my mirror with.


Derek Graf

Brooke Vertin, Nightshadow (etching on BFK Rives paper)

Artist's Commentary:

Upon reading "My Night as a Splinter and a Mirror," this etching immediately came to mind.  Derek’s poem creates a vivid world with reeds that stalk, limbs moving to the “farthest phantoms,” and stars in orbit.  Nightshadow depicts a figure standing in such a field as this, casting a beastly shadow into the night sky, revealing an animal trapped within.