Love, We Never Get Too Far

Nicholas Yingling

from water. Since the fall
summer’s shade brittles on the canyon floor
and I must press my lips to the faultline,
that fissure where each drink weeps slowly
out of the back of my skull. I’d like to lie, to play
Moses and strike a miracle out of stone,
but most days all I can do is wander
through smog and dust, trying to remember
a wave’s direction. I follow
you now. Three years in and you’ve learned
how to be in this state of lateness, this post-
concussion syndrome. Like a ghost, you say.
Like the soul it never quite shows up on an MRI,
but here we are, just out of focus
and keeping faith.

                                  You take my arm
and remind me which way to walk the fire
road home. How strange to be this soft, to look down
an ammonite circling into concrete and return
to this question of one’s final shape.
The final shape will be shale, a metacarpal or two
to point the way to fossil reefs, the mollusks
I imagine as ossicles listening in the rock
for some hand to bridge the shores
on our canyon wall. But you were never the type
to walk among these alders, their coral of split-gills,
and find yourself in just the shallow end
of eternity, never that romantic. You know
drowning is as much a predicament of time
as water.
Soon winter will lift the fall
to its surface like a leaf on a stream
and there’ll be months to stay in and write
a single poem. Soon the muscle will work
toward something dry and hard enough to keep,
to worry the blade of a seismograph
as these songs of whales
held in our mountains like a breath.