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23° in the Branches

His smile is never 
Concealed from you, by day 
When the vivid world seems 
Febrile or shackled, nor yet 
By night, when all is blent 
And orderless, and age-old 
Confusion comes again. 

- Hölderlin, The Rhine



Tristan tells me 
he saw a tree snap in half
early this morning.
And not an hour later,
we heard a small child
crying in the branches.
I hope that's a bird,
says Tristan.
But what bird cries like that?

At first, he’s building a wall,
where most would place a lock,
he slips a fallen screw.
Then, a simple shelter
over the exposed foundation
of a future passage.
I ask if there will be a door.
No need, he answers, nothing
for anyone to get inside to. 

All afternoon, the wind sharpens,
cutting the mind into
words: ocean, tree, stone, sky.
I remember a man who dug graves,
hoping to save his son 
from his holy life.
And we work amidst this wailing:
God’s smile unconcealing
its memory of origin.