back to Poems Listen  


Beka, 14

Squat, slant-eyed, speaking in phrase-book phrases, the messenger
says he is your brother, and settles down on his heels
to wait, muffled in flat, supple skin, rope over his shoulder. You
wait, play, turn, forget. Years,

years. The messenger is both like the penguin
who sits on the nest of pebbles, and the one
who brings home pebbles to the nest’s edge in his beak,
one at a time, and also like the one
who is lying there, warm, who is going to break out soon:

becoming yourself: the messenger is growing
strong, tough feet for land,
and strong wings for the water, and long
butter-yellow feather eyebrows, for looks. And will speak,
calmly, words you already know: “thread,” “island,”

“must”: now, slowly, just while you lie on your cot there, half-
dozing, not reading, watching the trees,
a summer, and a summer; writing long pages, tearing them up;

lying there under the close August window, while at your back
the water-lit, dotted lines of home start coloring in.

Door in the Mountain: New & Collected Poems