The Window

by Matthew M. Cariello

Then I knew one word,
birthright’s rudiment
uttered in hunger’s warm room.
The sense of me without sense.
I would have finished life then,
but, perfectly happy, but
the room collapsed
when by morning I lay
among the broken trees
beyond the open frame,
and it came creeping through
the burnished leaves:
not me, not hunger.
I named the thing
the name it gave
itself, the sound it
made just being there,
heard it first time
clear as another’s word.
Deep in the branches
of morning the memory
of birds calling.

. . .

When she found me clinging
to the screen two stories up,
she would swallow her panic,
hold my shoulders tight,
and ask me to say what I saw.
If I knew no names, she pointed
and named for me.  And so
articulation was first
folded in words my mother
said: hedge ivy bricks
chestnut alleyway gate
trees bucket.  Yet an invisible
counterlife chattered
in my ear as she spoke:
car, yes, but car running,
clothesline’s cry; I heard in rain
the downspout’s talk,
traffic lights traded
colors, birds held up
the shining wires.  That
was the word, the word
was that that was them.
Late afternoons, the backyard
was half in shadow half in sun
and broken puddles etched
contradictory houses and
there were more bricks in a wall
than were possible to count
and the iron gate squealed
secrets and an airplane
droned my name.  I’d sit
in the window and sob,
cradled by my mother
as the large world surged.