Amaranth Borsuk

Amaranth Borsuk

Natural Frequencies


Dun dove, I've come
to ask what aerial
warble we might make,
put out so like
white hair, like strands
of heron in far
air, our dust blown
skyward, rising bright as
felt light toward horizon,
come to doze, Dove,
blind, dumb, undone in
paths of dusky seed,
dwell, and, senseless, ask
which wounded, which dear
deer sound to sound.

Small Letters

The earth turns and the moon
slowly backs away—
an argument we'll never see the end of.
Freed for summer, we fortify ourselves.
Have you been moated by the one you love?


Flags in red and blue wink
over bandstands and car lots. Most nights
I'm ice-green: colder than deep ocean,
though not so dark.


What becomes of us when the sea pulls out
that final time? How will the mirage-sails,
mired at such distance, find their way to shore?
Our sandcastles will still erode, days will lengthen
into days, we'll always have a face to face.


A ring is a link in a chain. It might
weigh down any hand. And why weigh
anchor when the sand's so warm? The ocean
scares me. The beach is prickly.


The shore is mostly spilth:
What we throw out never leaves our orbit.
Besides moon, nothing else comes close
except the occasional coal casino:
a meteor or its kin.


We're not lonely hearts. We stick
to ourselves in the heat. We stick
apart. July's all swelter and we're mostly
water. Unlike Earth, we deplete.


If sunset's the sky's lunula, then moon's
a lamina. We scale one another to reach it.
What are rings for—small trapeze
for hands? Terminal bands on birds?
We circle what we can't speak.



Her greeting on the soccer field, a hush-hasty, swallowed 'lo,
withered my trumpet flower and I folded in like a feathered fan.

Ungodly plain with her small face like skim-milk bee-stung,
but lovely where cow-like—the glossy eyes—I like in his lovers
what reflects myself; but I won't share my epithet.

He shivered and flicked away a halo of horseflies.
On the other side of the field, the children began not touching.

I pressed my heel into the turf again and again with my trademark
precision. My husband jingled moonily, so I asked him
to invite her for dinner or a weekend because if I saw her, he could not

see her, though I knew she would not want this from her dopey Oh and Uh.

With her listless invalid beauty, her need for a herding hand, who
could not feel sorry for such a beast? I tightened his hitch
on the goal post. The other parents mingled, grazing

at the buffet, and she hoofed away in flats. Gus, whom I asked to watch her,
winked along with the sequins on his vest.

He looked sleepy, but I couldn't let it go. I followed her to the dip and watched
her chew and chew a piece of celery. Was this ignorance or spite? I wanted
to bite her, but instead, I poked her with the pin-end of my gadfly brooch. She bolted.

He'd had too much scotch and hung his arms around my neck for peace.
My peacock molted. We all dragged ourselves across the grass.


Clung to by night's blistering
star-wedge, we edge closer,
kept apart by touch.

Spun upon us: moonlight bent,
as we are, at the window's
chip-tongued waist.

What name is given
to this friction? Bed's
debris of spark and fray?

Call it fissure: span
of fire where we curve,
elbow, cleave, and settle,

working back and forth a breach.
Even in sleep, we test our mettle.

Landscape with Priapic Courtship

The satyr is in love with Cynthia; he visits her mother's garden daily.
Mummy married a sailor, forbade her to see, An Officer and a Gentleman,
so you know a god-thing was out of the question
          (the family portrait sags).

The sitter locks the windows, but the suitor won't be dissuaded.
In a fit of madness he eats the wisteria like grapes and licks the forsythia

Insatiable for things floral, his hoof prints in the sweet alyssum, the satyr
roots in the honey-buds, disrupts the carpet beds. He stutters.
Each fruit he touches explodes to over-ripe, then rots.
          (His earth-beard tickles,

Cynthia says, fingering the T.V.'s static.) Poulticed to keep fever off, a girl,
or most, will see herself half-empty. In migraine, eyelights scatter and twitch: her brain,
          radioing for help.

Wishing to be Doric, she turns loricate, lost in transmission. She's Victorian (it's hard
to be proactive with a mother so protective). Cynthia hears him calling her out
of her private cowering, but fears the casing's teeth. Her mother turns on the sprinkler,
          so the satyr drinks,

and, like a setter, his ruddy body leans: he can't help but point her out. He stalks the garden
turning soil with his hooves, then tunes in for Cynthia's evening broad-cast.
(I'm his wentletrap, she says, he's going to climb my rare bone staircase
          to the clouds.)

One day he sucks the snail shells dry, the next, the jasmine smells like urine
or eucalyptus and someone's crushed the saxifrage. The aloe's languets lose
their spines. The garden smells of sulfur or of sewage, the rosemary and roses
          of exhaust, but by day three

of Mummy's watch, the satyr, adjusting his sautoir, makes his sortie. She hangs the laundry
out and leaves a saucer of milk for Mr. Red on the retaining wall: porcelain scraping stone.
          (Cynthia prickles.)

Mummy says C's hardened, so she takes the ice packs off, grinds honeybush
for tea. She wants to eat cut grass. If the garden's gone out of me, she thinks,
then I'll go to the garden. It's morning. She smells the doughnuts frying.
          What a tease: the deep

plumeria smell of oil pretending to be light — it may glow amber, but it's molten stone.
She's always preferred the dark and the sea. The garden's gone all heavy: the fruit,
          water-logged — a deity will do that.

Cynthia lets the starlings have it. The satyr's left his calling card in Mum's azalea: a live
butterfly winks beside her hero's credo: For a Good Time, Fall. The other side
he's plagiarized a bit: This Too Shall Pass, Go Chew Some Ice. Cynthia buries the billet-doux
          in her blouse.


This night's errant wish: to not be orant, but cormorant,
cornute-beaked perfection, a feathered venus
who comes up with a grouper in her mouth. In the orient
she's an ancient lure—not ornate, as the sparkling jelly-
spike used now with such aplomb, but a naked
swish in water too sharp for escape. These aren't
your average birds-of-prey, they stay close
          by when tethered.

Does it matter that this is what I'd like? Bedraggled,
wet and molting, lips a cupid's-bow
capable of all kinds of new sounds,
to ker and kraw from kitchen to bedroom, to bring
you fish, to peck the leash? Gomphrena flower
mistaken for clover, a badger does not become
a bird. Take what you're given from thighs to chin—
          take it in.


The lemons are alive with falling bees,
pucker-drunk, returning less and less to
the tallest branches, their wing-song a
series of nested circles. We are rocked
in the sheer echolalia that can't be
drone. We are drained and drawn in—
we are drowned.

Each phone call is harder than the last.
We return less and less to the list. We
are hard-pressed to speak of this—
instead, we tend Harlan's rosebushes,
his trees, and sleep each night in infinite
regress, go deep and deeper into night's
abyss. We miss appointments, see
distress in each bee's flower-faltering.
We tune in natural frequencies.

Our friends unshell our faults like bitter
seeds. They have advice. They think we
want them to know best, but we want
only to keep falling from the nest.
Listen: each stamen's a staff to which
the music cleaves. We're told the
eccentric bee is not bereaved— a pause
between two notes is just a rest, of
which each rusty song has many. We
half-hear, watch the honeybees stuff
their pockets; our cerated hearts will not
be turned. The body's emulsion for each
day's impressions. When we're grave,
we are not dust—we're wax.