Back to Issue Eleven.

UnBurying the Birthcord



A runway to nowhere, beetle casings shine 
on the bayonets of grass, forfeited 
shields, waiting. 

Deafly, calendars lay in kindling heaps in pieces
like wet wrens, each unfilled box 
to be counted 
among the dynasties of the harvest, 
& what the rain takes apart with its tiny hands. 

At dusk, the faces move away from each other 
on the shelves—they 
insist, remember 
your place in the lineage of stones
But there is no place beyond the moles, 
only ellipses of ants 
crossing doors of caskets, carting crushed commas 
on their backs 
like their own shadows. 

I listen to the first snows developing 
into the negatives of pictures in the dark—
the way my mother worked 
a needle into rose blooms, as if 
it meant nothing. 

One prayer comes to me over & over, 
sliding up & down my synapses 
as on empty elevators.

I dream dreams now in which I do not appear.



Ross 10

Brian Tierney is a 2014-2016 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNIBest New Poets 2013The Kenyon ReviewNarrativeHayden's Ferry Review, and others.

More by Brian Tierney:
"Elegy for the Mattresses Sleeping in the Past," Poetry, Issue Eleven.
"Waking in the Year of the Boar," Poetry, Issue Eleven.