My bed is the loneliest river.
Madison’s asleep and ten miles away
but I swear I can hear her snoring,
little coos of clouds puffing out her nose.
She hates clouds and the sky, well I guess
I shouldn’t say hates, she just can’t handle
how the sky opens up because she can see
everything after this and she likes to stay grounded,
watching flowers and grass grow
around her body, tying her to the earth
that breathes its life and secrets
into her. She likes me on my back
while I watch the clouds unfold all the things
I need to know about death,
and learn how we’re part of something
we’re too alive to understand—
that great gig in the sky; vanilla-orange
sunset in the mountains
where we go after we die.
She holds my hand and weeps
and tells me this moment is the really real;
that the dandelion DNA spiraling towards
the blood in her veins is enough
to let her see her mother again,
but she can’t think about that now
and I don’t want her to think about it,
because she already sees death crawling over my skin,
leaving me decrepit but unshakably alive
because the clouds are in my eyes.
Their reflection illuminates me into something
beyond my skin—me, the clouds; her, the meadow.
Mostly I just see the Big in the Small,
probably that’s why the fire won’t start.
I can taste the water molecules in the wood I chopped.
It’s too wet to burn, it just smokes
out into the blue and death is all around us.
She can’t see the skull of the young falcon
we buried here last year, but I know it’s there.
Hell, I’m the one who ran it over, but it’s not like
I meant to—just driving too fast
and the peckerwood swooped down in front
of my grill and got lodged there, didn’t notice
for two days until Mason pried it off
with a stick and we dug a hole,
dropped it in the dirt, built a cairn.
I’m pretty sure consciousness
is the only thing keeping everything alive and awake,
even past death. I’m pretty sure people don’t live
or die—we just float to that great void
where we’re all a part of the same cloud.
We can call it love or we can call it home
or maybe it’s one giant crib cradling
all the newly dead and unborn.
Best to see their faces in the burn.
Tend the kindling, stoke the flames.
Completely in separate from nature.
All of these poems are taken from a manuscript currently titled C O S M O N A U T. New work is upcoming or appears in Black Tongue Review, Cream City Review, Danse Macabre, Revolver, Sugar House Review, Atticus Review, Metazen, Main Street Rag, among others. Adam Love is the author of the the chapbook, Another Small Fire (Tired Hearts Press 2013). He runs the Literary Arts portion of the Utah Arts Festival. In his free time, he’s somewhere in between surfing the Pacific Ocean or exploring the mountains and western rivers of Utah.