Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Five Untitled Poems

Simon Perchik
East Hampton, New York, United States


Mark Rothko, No. 61 (Rust and Blue), 1953, 115 cm × 92 cm (45 in × 36 in). Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles  


Slowly the glass, half filled, half
melting down for a slipper
not yet hardened into light


is flickering the way a moon
still sets itself on fire
then changes into taking its time


and you become an old woman
with a cane, around and around
as if this rim at last remembers


overflows and from a single wave
you grasp for air, for a warm hand
and step by step covered with ashes.




You feel for corners the way this rug
makes the slow turn into one day more
and though your fingers wander off


it’s already flying out your arms
becomes the place that is not a dress
emptied by the dim light from one hand


clinging to the other – this worn down rug
has no glow yet, just the darkness
with never enough sky – your each caress


lowers the Earth toward you – arm over arm
not yet an afternoon then a night
that lasts a life time side by side as later.




You pan for rocks though every breeze
smells from wood lying on its back
and between your fingers a stream


ripens as fruits and berries that fall
swallow the Earth hand over hand
the way beginner stones learn to splash


so nothing will float free, is melted down
as the darkness you hear spreading out
to dry and further you sift for anchors


and all around you the cold ripples
drip into your breath, lay there, whisper
to come up together, say it’s over.




Before it could endure its undertow your skull
hardened, was silenced with its marrow
kept calm by the half once seawater


and the other taking longer
though everything makes a sound
gathers you in, the way rust on all sides


scratches – with both hands you comb your hair
as if it still smells from a gate
that’s no longer iron down the middle


and there you listen to it opening
– from both sides reaching out for air
that sounds like shoreline, further and further.




Word by word the page clouding over
as if rain would wash the dirt from her face
flower though nothing will change – the sky


still covered with fresh dew not yet the stones
that forage forever as the scent grass gives off
when paper is folded over and over and over


and each crease drains, outlasts its emptiness
taking away, making room in the Earth
for this old love note, your forehead.




SIMON PERCHIK is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems published by boxofchalk, 2017. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.


Fall 2018  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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