Black Rainbow

Andrew Michael Roberts

i am thinking
of a number
so large

it does not
yet exist

it is stretched
so far ahead
of us

beyond space
and distance

like a pulse
thinning and
murmuring out

into a fine
snowlike dust,


and in my mind
there is a hanger

among the dustfall,

and fastened to it
an image of

your great
coy in an apron

scattering feed
to the gathering hens

a few days before
she disappeared
into the barn

and choked down
a quart of lye.


and now i'm thinking
of snow, how it
smoothes everything over,

believing life
is a cake,

and for a few days
after it falls we
believe in that too,

and in squirrels
with their intricate
winter maps

marking our yards
with imperceptible x's,

who are happy
when fat,

the way we
cannot be.


in this town
in my mind
in the winter

there is a treeless hill
overlooking everyone.

the neighborhoods
are perforated
with footprints:

a great quilt
gone dirty in
the orange lamplight.

somewhere among
the mute lit rooms,

a brute lays hands
upon his wife

who becomes
a blind lace doll
floating over herself.


in the portrait, she
is wading in
loyal white hens.

hens who are
in love with

the arc of
the falling grain.

hens right up
to her boots,

which reflect
and multiply them,

as if they
go on forever.

straight into
the world.