The painter recalled his childhood through his skin: “small cold rooms lit by hot flashes
Mornings in bed, the pulse of your breath on my neck.
The dunes marked here and there by swallows’ shadows as by blown bits of paper.
Will the dead, as we crowd the earth, resist the urge to visit?
The survivor said they washed themselves with ash, or sand.
A missing muscle in David’s upper back—his body’s only imperfection—from a defect
in the block of granite Michelangelo chose to work with.
The underneath of promise.
Because it’s the abstract we can agree upon, the pursuit of the real, made of particulars—
Idea as chemical action in the brain, the self erased.
The water black with the ink of words from books the invaders threw into the river at the
sacking of the city.
The death of anecdote.
Remember to show your work, we were told, when tested.
It was evening, or morning, or the middle of the night.
From an open window, irreal etudes at the height of the acacia tops—a child’s keyboard
efforts—shaped the rhythm of my walk.
Errors of form; the pattern of a life.
Instead, after patient looking, a face emerges incompletely from the worn surface of a
Boyer Rickel books include arreboles (Wesleyan) and Taboo, autobiographical essays (Wisconsin). The poems in this issue are from a book-length sequence, remanence, to be published by Parlor Press: Free Verse Editions in fall of next year. Boyer teaches in the U. of Arizona Creative Writing Program.