Dorian Vallejo, Small Windows (oil on panel)

Like ashes, like prayer, like flowers are my physics.
My life is the length of the lake in this, the season
of fire and mist, of children with sharpened sticks,
of camouflaged men in the wooded hills, of deer
brought down then laid to rest according to the laws
of meat and steel in the beds of rusted-out Rams.

I’ve studied the meteorology of these rooms, tracked
the black rectangles and the flaming boats that float
above her body as she sleeps. She paints her portion
of the world as if her skull were a fractured window.
When I come down for coffee and bread, she says
she dreamt me as a bear with a buck’s antlered head.

The lake’s edge is laced with ice. Our geology is glass,
the granite ground into powder from which this cup
was formed. Please understand: I do not understand
the nature of things. The objects of my thought are not
objects themselves, but the modes through which
I think them, the geography and chemistry of paint.

Anything can represent anything else, but we resist
the idea that things signify themselves, that the rocks
along the shore are names. I find a palm-sized flat one,
fling it, watch it skip across the surface before it sinks.
I rub my antlers against a birch, claw the papery bark.
Velvet means that I was here—marks, that I am me.


Owen McLeod