The House

              1.    Foundation
              Start with finding the animal—
                             “His vision, from the constantly passing bars”

              not that you know what to do
                        with Rilke’s panther in your socket

              not that   it mortars loss, I cannot like the house

                    for pushing on the bed
                                of knowledge

                                                        (absolutely, fuck me jesus)

              earth mother, set the stake here.



              2.   The movement of plates

              Tell me nothing is a sign,
                    tell me nothing’s hiding in the barn with the bad uncles
                                and the bale of it

              and fenced seedbed,
                    stones skipped across fissures.

                                                  do I righteous garden—

              3.   Power and light

              Emergence from leaf litter
              (pandemic winter,
              narcissus flashes,
              house riot,
              her funeral)

              leases form
              to solace

              while schooling
              form in friction
              and how

              the pearl of it

              to be a village
              transmuting matter

              as in a drawing of.

               4.     The fence

              She was a book club member, so I begged for a book to read:
              “Tell me if it has profanity in it.”

              Cow-repelling bridge, be careful of its rungs—

              understory snagged on the particulars
              of skirting the meadow

              or stepping over the vaginal flowers.

              Indeed, toeing the piled-up stones to cross,
              do not cut the wire

              you’re straddling.

              5.   Parking

             for want of an offering   *   lost virgin beach *   presence  
             makes no sound    *    broken bottles, shell fragments   *
             sea wall       *     boardwalk gap        *         broken
             stair    *   pantheism, or panentheism   *   ghost
             traces    *    white paper   *     far-off train   *
             horizon objects        *          upcycling  *
             a woman’s black eye      *     tin pail   * 
             wound salt     *      inquiry       *      
             in your mother’s ear      *
             beaded necklace     *
             dune grass       

            6.   Clerestory

           Housing constructed of stirred sand—

           if a rent in animal hide invented
           the camera obscura—

           to trip the fallen columns

           saying I must take this sea glass with me
           for a window                                                               

           inside the real

          worries grinding
          after stone,

          recall your grandparents’ friend gave you

          an oyster shell
          for making

          lace of—

          7.   Coma Berenices

          What stars represent
          is nothing that you think

          except the roof be open
              and the looking-house              pierced—

                                                    Berenice combs her hair for the last time
                                  before cutting it to ensure Ptolemy’s return

                        or a nighthawk drinks from a pool in the
           Y of a tree

                where the snag is being

                            (a trapeze catches light)

           8.     Balustrade

           would have it

                        spiral arms   

                        and in the making
                                        you will not unmake   


                                                          so it might

                                                                        live all night


                                                                  to shape it and bring it up
                                                                                                    is tricky

      9.    Cystallography and blueprint     

      The parable of the salt:  in a process called sinking,
      my beloved smiths a tiny copper bowl— 
            smith, smith, smith      

       “do the aligning atoms”
                erect shelter, asks Lot’s wife,
                          my salt pillar cleaning the lint cache—

            Dreamwork in human calories,
        the antler has twelve points

                        stairing up and down
                            you had no ink

                                    the spacious of, the levels, the landings

                                        and how
                                                    longing for the views 
                        the deer looks at you

        10.      Shoring up

        is to say elegy’s wooden stairs
        on toe slippers

        and the roof angle

        shall link their forms
        breathing out

        pelagic spells.

        the ocean’s over-qualified

        says the film

        and grief
        is the maker.

        11.   What is the grass

        as in the parapet’s gravity

        is what

        even a large animal is

        the shape of
        going under

        bare dirt, beneath the sycamore

        12.      Instead of impatiens looking machine-made

        Patience scaffold,

        to rock garden
        the beholder settles
        in the shape of a container

        succulent thorns, shell games, beardtongue volunteers

        to meet the breathing under-need’s
        home address—   intake candle—

        dirt, beneath the sycamore

        (although my mother loved them for their easy color—


Mary Cisper's poems and reviews have appeared in Lana Turner, Newfound, New American Writing, PoetryNow, Colorado Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and elsewhere. Her first collection, Dark Tussock Moth, won the 2016 Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press (2017). A former chemist, she lives in northern New Mexico.