Back to Issue Forty

What Will Survive


This small gray stone nestled
between two larger speckled ones,

maybe. Some crickets, but not
this one. The mountain, as silt,
as ocean floor. What trash

we’ve launched into the cold
between worlds. The word

sedimentary will not. Nor this
heat between us. The twinge
in my hip, the crook of your grin,

every murmured word
in the pre-dawn blear of being

together, no. But maybe
for a while the scar our son
carries like a secret kiss

in the new valley of his back.
Which won’t survive even

as long as the brick he buried
between our yard and the woods
when spring called him to the dirt

again. That foolhardy seed.
Maybe not the pleasure

of fingers digging down,
but the dirt itself, the good
or unclean dirt. The ribs at least

of the city where we live.
Some atoms shaking

in the air between us now,
surely, but not the knowledge
that now they are here, here.

This metal closet handle,
torn loose. How the ocean

erases what’s marked on the shore.
The desire of anything to tilt
its head when watching a puddle’s

surface, to right what it is
we see reflected there.



Dan Rosenberg’s third poetry book, Bassinet, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press. His work has won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize and the Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Contest, and recent poems have appeared in Poem-a-Day from the Academy of American Poets, Colorado Review, Brooklyn Review, Ploughshares, and Conjunctions. He is an associate professor of English at Wells College in Aurora, NY.

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