Back to Issue Eleven.

Unburying the Birthcord



A runway to nowhere, beetle casings shine
on the bayonets of grass, forfeited
shields, waiting.

Deafly, calendars lay in kindling heaps in pieces
like wet wrens, each unfilled box
to be counted
among the dynasties of the harvest,
& what the rain takes apart with its tiny hands.

At dusk, the faces move away from each other
on the shelves—they
insist, remember
your place in the lineage of stones
But there is no place beyond the moles,
only ellipses of ants
crossing doors of caskets, carting crushed commas
on their backs
like their own shadows.

I listen to the first snows developing
into the negatives of pictures in the dark—
the way my mother worked
a needle into rose blooms, as if
it meant nothing.

One prayer comes to me over & over,
sliding up & down my synapses
as on empty elevators.

I dream dreams now in which I do not appear.


Brian Tierney is a 2014-2016 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNIBest New Poets 2013The Kenyon ReviewNarrativeHayden’s Ferry Review, and others.