magnet bay


Magnet Bay
D Nurkse
The tall cedars sway without wind
because there are children
camped at the crests
spying on parents
and when one approaches
they make the cries of birds
but too expertly:

should we coax them down
with honey and cookies
or order them down?

Our mistake: to bargain:
a crow answers, a finch,
a bobwhite, the high hawk
offended but strangely indifferent.

How they must love us, to hide
so ruthlessly, then hunt us
among the monsters of the green save
where the ghost crab with eyes on stalks
perches over his victims’ bones.

Now it is beginning to rain.
We have the tent spread out
but miss the tarp and the bag
of orange pegs – still it is a marvel
how small our house could fold.

The youngest bosses her doll:
Sleep, can’t you sleep?
Sleep, little fidget.
Does the wind scare you?

With her thumb she covers
the staring eyes.

I’m tired of being me, she whispers
and I hold her, I offer her
a whelk shell and safe dreams
but she finds the catch..

All you ever do is promise.

Photo by Nick West on Unsplash

origins of


from Origins of Desire
D Nurkse

4. The Unlit Room
The mind is a story
that found a way
to tell itself—but who
is the confidante, who
the eavesdropper,
who gropes for a switch
along this invisible wall?

In our narrow bed
we hear the catch
of the other’s breath,
faint Muzak, an ice machine,
a late goose honking
toward the idea of south.

Between five and six
we whisper our presentiment—
great herds going blind
in Patagonia, a moth species
extinguished at every breath.

We exaggerate a little.
Those extra zeroes
hold our reprieve.

Perhaps it is too late:
we can still make love
and catnap toward dawn.

But even if we close our eyes
we are still married.

Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash




My Father’s Closet
D. Nurkse
1 hat

As soon as I put it on
Brooklyn went dark,
but when I took it off
my wooden horse stared at me
with dazzling glass eyes.

2 coat

The shirred hem
swished on the floor.
Huge shoulders sloped
like pines under snow.
A panel in the lapel
read Kuut, Tallinn
in thread letters.
I hid at the center
behind jet buttons
too round to undo.
That coarse-nap wool
outlasted Estonian winter
but now the moths
left a trellis of holes
so it was never dark
when I curled up
hugging my knees.
My mother cried out:
Who are you? I answered
in my deepest voice:
His coat.

3 shoes

I shoved my hands in
and taught them to walk:
now stumble, now march
against your will, left, right,
to the Narva front:

now dance:
and somewhere
in that immense city
where snow trembled
in high lit windows,
a footstep receded,
rapid, urgent,
indelible as a name.