Brandon Krieg


fir and cedar
forest: evergreen,
every dark


a thousand greens,
a green thought: the creek
a colorless green


from creek's clearfire
mayflies rise: lit wicks
leaving their lamps

On the City's Outskirts

I discovered the very tire, perhaps, through which
the creek's Chinook were styxed,
remembered them

jagged and terrible as
obsidian arrowheads, impossible
as basilisks, returning to a paleolithic
those who came upon them
oceansized and violent in
all shallowness.

Gone as arrowheads ground to sand;
gone as myths whose mouths

I refused to sit
with the difference, diminished; I got up

to follow inklings of orange hornflowers,
waxy redstems, long fingers
of pink furze ringed by bees,
and leaned and breathed this sting

of sea-reek so unlike.

Through the scent's familiar arches,
I ran to the ridge's edge,
where the creek's revolving carves a kind of nave—
there beyond belief:

ten black Chinook picked to rags,
laid at diagonals in the slowness,
committing their ooze to air.

Kneeling, I saw straight through
my reflection:

above the dead
a clot of tiny smolts hovered, each
wearing its pulse like a thread

in a coat of many colors.

The Cloisters

The Cloisters Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Removed from pilgrimage routes,
re-assembled across an ocean,
these arches once enclosed the spirit's orders
until death, and housed the bones.

Their placement now reflects, however mitigated
by curators' antiseptic fingers, a magnate's preference—
the rigors of the cross have been dispensed,
and windows added facing the summer Hudson.

The Sunday crowd looks out, it shuffles through
to see elsewhere the apse, the tapestries kept dark
preserving priceless gilts of cryptic dukes.
A dissected narwhale's horn offers material proof
of the existence of the unicorn.

But linger under the rectilinear skylight
that protects from open air these courtyard walls,
and no fleshed-out relic of the Word could ever seem enough
to take the walls again as limits of a life.

Instead a vision comes, of the vast pleasures left
to those freed from laying prayerful bedrock,
and in it, a Rockefeller sadly having his choice
of another stone head, in the purchasable world.