Motion Struck By Stillness

Nothing’s changed. This used to scare me,
I used to run, used to shudder,
I used to throttle across the country
in the shade of wide brims of black hats
and cake my face with the Colorado
River’s bed and then shatter my own mask
against canyon walls, compile the pieces
into clay cairns outside snake holes,
where I would wait for rattlers to emerge
and balm the debris with a secretion
that could adhere the shards
I was afraid would fly off and harm
the drivers behind me as I scorched on,
a comet avoiding appellation.

I used to break from everything, taking note
of how a tree’s green turned gold on the ground
and how such leaves rose and floated,
scattered, when a body hit the raked piles
or when hands ground fallen foliage into
the rusty blizzards I’d let squall out palms,
autumn grains I, a skinned hourglass, would fling.
Thus I learned and left all bits to the wind,
which blew the particles under my clothes
and I itched and itched, by my leavings galled,
scratching my body against the beeches,
coursing the woods, rabid through thicket,
until, exhausted, I panted a cloud
and a bud locked in frost seized its center.



The coming of spring unbows few heads here,
most all of us conditioned to ignore
the vernal equinox lest we’re bamboozled
into believing the snow and cold are done.
Even the river, full to the brim with melt,
just trudges on, hauling ice sheets to sea;

and though shovels in shrinking snow banks do tilt,
no one dares change a thing until they fall
and lie among other resurfaced debris,
making a man look lazy. Even then,
the stuff doesn’t make it to the garage,
it just gets leaned against the house like a charm.

One year I had zucchini seedlings ready,
sprouted in trays by the windows and, seeing
the first twilight-colored moth land on a rail,
put them out of the house to get some air.
It was Cinco de Mayo and tequila
was drunk to love songs while snow killed the sprigs.

Something like this must have happened to us.
Something must have snuck up with warmth, with light,
and, out to those jags in the river where
the cormorants alone open their wings
and bare their bodies to the April sun,
lured us and left us among the shards of ice.


Cody Kucker’s poetry has appeared in Rattle, The Carolina Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, and JuxtaProse, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and teaches high school English and resides in northeastern Massachusetts with his wife and son.