In Lieu of Flowers by Michael Robins

        —for Huda Al-Jaburi
She dreams beneath the washed-out trees
& the other, tell me again of his heart
cornered like a rat when the sliver moon
rises early, delights at last the rabid dog
while we rewind our clocks against reason
so even the hour of a wrist orbits twice
those dozen shades broken & yellowed,
scattering their heat & off to an underbelly
before we buckle or straightaway gather
what’s happened for in the instant we blink
our neighbor won’t, & if rang the bell
it dropped inside the crosshairs, & if ever
floated a pitcher to bear her soul like water
we did not see it but instead the vestige
almost nestled & drowsy with snow,
flurry of jewels we’ve known lovingly cut,
descending, sweeping the lit windows
& they charm the eye, increasingly please
until the greyhound of time remembers
every branch must lay down its green,
demands of our labor to say the unsayable,
how we wanted to believe our neighbor
asleep, the sky an ordinary kind, then swore
to forget not the moon & her threshold
coupled steady in the grass, but that other
whose sick & godless sound we leave
deserving to die &, so with him, it does.
Michael Robins is the author of four collections of poetry, including In Memory of Brilliance & Value (2015) and People You May Know (2020), both from Saturnalia Books. He lives in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago.