Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).
These shelves are used to it, pruned
the way stress will age the branches first
–you can hear the tree struggling
bend though each board is already empty
and there’s no pillow or water
you can force under to grow as wood
not yet smoke or dust scrambling up
as if all these horizons would collapse
and the charred rag opens over you
making room for distances and moving closer
–what you stack is absences, her arms
worth keeping, her mouth even in traces.