Sometimes during what they call Rain Stone Season
they lose me—the street green,
a kind of bread left out for weeks, not
what they’ve been taught to expect
so early in March—who knows how they know,
but when they find me, like almost all offspring,
they naturally become immediately disappointed
at the one who might make them.
How is it I’m just another of the umbrellas and phones?
Even if nobody else can hear their complaints
I shush them, in my own way, under the awning
of the bric-a-brac shop on Manhattan Avenue.
Rain Stone Season: yes. And yes, terrible, waiting
with the living and those somehow outside that category,
in raw weather, and the usual unanswerable questions
raised by children: why won’t you buy us arms?
I won’t tell them how on this side
the wars splinter into words so as to be easily conflated,
how the bric-a-brac shop isn’t a metaphor
because it’s true everything’s
for sale here. Entire snapshot families for sale,
right behind me! Under the awning, to keep
from getting soaked (soaked and then sick),
the children with unsubtle bodies,
blue before they were human, at the birth hour,
all of us. Here’s an apple I can’t share,
they won’t take, I say nothing; I can only listen.
Where we’re from they’re for stargazing.
I won’t be the devil, offering a world to Eve.
So I lose them again,
alone except for the food I hold,
faint stars on its skin forming like the sky above Mars.
Every day begins with this refrain:
I won’t die, I won’t die.
The sky in whatever tantrum or euphemism
seems to be singing it, and breakfast
follows, the honoring of broken shells,
eating the unborn, quaffing the milk of
another animal, its status unknown.
Every activity devised to change the subject,
or avoid it.
Photos under obits display the living only,
our slasher films elicit laughter
and culminate with the audience rising.
Secondary sources—the moon,
the brainy fronds of hydrangea,
imply that what we have is a cycle,
not a terminating line.
So the persistent hum,
the reverie that nothing will unravel.
they go out for the evening,
they put their hands together for the chasing of a ball,
the goring of a bull,
the handing out of an award.
Those who sit out the sing-along
are not easily accessed.
Somewhere behind shades
the color of enamel,
among concrete and institutional garden,
we might catch a note or two,
but it’s quickly dubbed over
with won’t die, won’t die.
We call out these words,
we call out whole sentences, into caves,
and the dead—the inheritors of echo,
the ones proved wrong—
by sending back
everything they’ve heard before.
Documentary for Eleanor Manzano, Who Was Mistaken for the Kidnapped Lindbergh Baby in March, 1932
It would have to be reenactment disguised as newsreel
Winthrop Park, Seventeenth Ward, Brooklyn
shot of the lawn filmed in black and white
and gunmetal benches close-up on the first cop’s
mutton-chop face after the title card fades
his cockeyed twitch that seems to say I know this scene’s absurd
a pram pulled over by the cops like some bank robber’s getaway car
and medium shot of your reenactment mother
in cloche hat and spring coat too shocked to argue
(have they made baby walking a crime?)
conflicting accounts your mother police-
stationed for her questioning for your own good
and you given to the doctor and then they hand you back
OR it’s fast simple the second cop sees the wrong sex
under the pins of your cloth diaper
and he almost drops you handing back
That handing back—again and again,
even if you can’t possible remember,
you know they might have kept you,
filed you with the other
mistaken identities and counterfeit dollars
all the wrong wrongfully kept
as if to have an alibi
in case the actual never materializes
It would have to include
a montage of other baby carriages
getting pulled over all across America
Lindbergh Lindbergh every infant in America changeling
I too am one of history’s deleted scenes,
but I remember it
Sound is only recently invented and no talkie can convey the moment—not the last—
the world insisting This is Mine, no match, but what you are will do just as well.
silvery cousin, blind acquaintance—
I don’t know who gets taken
and returned safe,
why even the globe stunt flying
doesn’t shield others.
The baby I’ve chosen
to play you in the documentary
will not stop crying,
which by all accounts
you did not do even then.
Michael Tyrell is the author of The Wanted (The National Poetry Review Press, 2012) and his poems have appeared in many magazines, including Agni, The Canary, Fogged Clarity, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Yale Review. With Julia Spicher Kasdorf, he edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (NYU Press, 2007). He teaches at New York University and resides in Brooklyn, where he was born.