Petroglyph 4032 2611 Roberta Senechal de la Roche

If I had said in time
hold your breath
to distract yourself from this
moment you just carved alone
on a dark blue hill in silence,
by fallen trees taken down—
some all at once by the trunk,
others branch by branch— by axe
with no one to divert you from
slow silting rivers we both forget
until we go back to town.

Just then we might have mourned
all the words that incline us
to streets steeped in dust and smoke,
dense with signs too obvious, suborned,
accompanied by sounds too high and thin
for us to move like angels, out of place,
beguiled, obliged to move in circles,
bad wine in hand, posing, consenting,
bedding down with whispers—

If only I had said
take all the breaths that come and go,
forsaking all the gilded blooms,
graffiti blue and red, the glitter, confetti,
then go and mount the darkest horse
to take you off, bit clenched
going fast all out of bounds,
away from any sense of cooling damp
between thin covers
and covert looks at clocks near dawn.

In the end, I saved these things in time:
handfuls of change, a bundle of feathers,
a broken watch, hands stopped at noon
or midnight, in a candle smoked room,
a small lock of your black hair
I took in secret while you slept,
and the image of you stepped back
from high cliff stones
chisel in hand, mouthing antiphons
staring at the moon, defying light.

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