Chinoiserie

Phoenix Nocturne

The skull was never a tomb
or curio. A cage

picked clean

as if bone foretold lessons in turbulence.

Sockets drew you in a masquerade.
The jaw, which was hinged
and slack,

which was packed cavity,
the cow’s head staked to the garden—

Your voice, when it left.
Your voice in the desert
circling pink xeriscapes,
radiation lantanas.

The skull anchored at its base
always an echo of something else
and when I sought you, wind sheared

cinderblock walls,
when I said, I cannot recall what I started to tell you,
I meant the pith, bitter-white.

The skull cradled your voice.

You would think that nothing
would ever happen again.

Sirens laced the grid.
Bromegrass silvered in the drained canal.

© Karen Rigby, Chinoiserie (Ahsahta Press, 2012)