Joddy Murray: Sentinel

Small stones in a cobalt bird feeder—
two eyes in a sanguine café, each
pushing each right and forward,

the scratch of heavy clouds,
heavy air, and haloed light,
one per light pole. Eyes

digging as they scan—scarring,
shoveling as they go like a claw-loader
picking out its own oil-drenched
soil, its own footing, and forgetting.

Black oil—cold to touch.
Curries like flowers from the kitchen.
We are held here, stranded
to stare, to slice lemon

into wedges. We hold ourselves
at optimum distances. We open
our clothes and mouths and sample
the salts. We pause the night
as the mist becomes frost and feathers

into crystalline layers on car hoods,
mailboxes, snow shovels. You pick
one corner of my neck, one
sound in my throat. You piece
together songs stuck gently in my skin.

I consider what it is to linger,
to upset the open ways of things
that stay. Storage comes naturally
like the outer yellow zest, its
bitter pulp infused with fibrous
veins, our own giving resting loudly,
alerting the soft air of its promises.

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