Eryn Green

Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus


                                It was time

that was the tenderness—still light yes

& all our breakfast

at once—at home now

I understand how

you became so sad—brushes so cold

I looked out at the snow—light—still     (how

time adapts to the breathing

of the born and dying body)       a party

you said—warren across the street

in abandoned complexes—color dancing—and I stopped looking

for patterns in secret, opposite. Just kind of gave up on it

breaks my heart. Thought I should tell you—put you in a field

and it turns green—I’ve seen it, been there just before

and after passing—and even though nothing

is missing (today) I know I feel something

circling underneath every crow’s nest

I go to sleep. Descartean vortices

coordinate wings—can’t say

other than I mean—I dreamt I saw you

               in the back gardens

the day my daughter starts swaying with the lyres—dancing

                                                  white phosphorescent       

                               fine wires—

my incorrigible shaking

hands in the morning. A curse

and a prayer. So thank you

no one tells you                                                                      you’d understand

the body confused

by breath at last—thought

for so long       my

own                then proven so

deftly not so. This insistence

of world holding here in us daily

a kind of echo, rental, promise

of real transit, potential—and death

just takes your breath away

because it obeys

rules? We get it. Darkness waves

& the unknown fidgets. Certain things you have to be

this close to the animal to understand—how a foal knows

to kick at a menacing rustle, never

glimpsing danger before. Or

what is breaking in us—the language

of reeds, the way your body

lets go of me, the air in the room

echo too, some far song

along series—what kills me

is our chances anyway—and the police, you’d say—my own home

catching morning in a bright reflection

like I’ve never known

danger either—the world

still green. No stopping really

like robins in east siding, a whole

new day eloping                            I’m still sorry

a welcome home party. Anew—Hey, Achilles!

It’s ok. Whatever adversity

         is of needs             

                              must break

                  if in the line   

                                   if we—

                 given away



Just look
at the light
of this hour
of headstones, rooftops
the way telescope antennae arrange
through chimneystacks
like real ocean masts
in France these days, the birds
know at last—    
                           —we can’t stay
in the tutelage of alleyways
the next horizon already
underway. We can’t leave either
our beautiful faces to the mass
so, urgency—so color already
in pinwheels—increased day by day. I had wanted to show you
an opening in attention, a way in the world arranged
toward happy-making, real
as it is to me, fields
of my little girl, finally
returning, what I had asked for, singing
and I was lightly at sleep
at everything

Eryn Green ’s first book, Eruv, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and his work has appeared in Jubilat, Colorado Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. He is Assistant Professor–in–Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he lives in the desert with his wife, Hanna Andrews, and their daughter, Aya.