The sun, just-blown glass, rises
over bear-fur mountains. Flint, steel,
brass, and copper filament mountains.
His bed on the alkali flats warms.
This is the day her bicycle will be stolen
and her miniskirt will be gold chiffon;
this is the day her camping stove will melt
the hem from below, as she lights a firecracker.
Was the alkali dust here filigreed
so finely by rattlesnake drifts, or the fingertips
of the little wan girl
he saw, yesterday, wearing her father’s—or her
brother’s—boots like bear feet
or anvils—or has he, perhaps, slept lightly
and heavily enough to be the artist?
It would explain his bloodied fingers.
Petrified fern leaf inside the envelope
in his front left pocket, from Montana,
which he has half a mind to eat. Which
Nevadan ghost town was it where an ounce
of gold once bought a loaf of bread, a straight razor shave?
This is the day he will learn.
Anders Villani was born in Melbourne. On receiving his MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, he was awarded the Delbanco Thesis Prize. In 2015, he was shortlisted in the Noel Rowe Award for a first book of poems by an Australian writer. He lives in Ann Arbor.