The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 14 no. 2


Chris Emery

Black Flake


In the dream the man falls but does not drown,
Coaxed from a bed of white pine needles,
Shocked and late in winter air, falling to earth.
The man is no more than a pelt stripped from aspen
Or cherry. We see him so.

In the dream he spoils through rains
Like a black flake. A calm precise shadow
Above the lungfuls of seed and heather,
Like an idea of pressure solved in skin.
We see the days eke out their measure in white jute.

We hear the oaks in their untidy creaking,
Sifting and yearning. Years ago,
He lifted his hair in rage for the bloodless archipelago.
Now we find our mind centered on his fall,
Making this studious journey to earth.

There is no disdain. No pain or shoal of fact.
The mushrooms fold their battles in their jealous dens.
The ferns collapse into their own miasma. The man repeats his fall,
Pushing through branches, leaving his heart
In the dank reticulation.

In the dream, the man sheds ten thousand memories of skin.
He sees the goats and spiders crossing the deserts.
He sees the cities rising and the dirty altars ferrying rains
Up to the monsters of the populous. There is no let up
It seems. His eyes like eggs in the clinkers of his face.