Horizon itself is a song: a sphere stretched into the tight fold of a rubber band, a loop flattened into an eyelash of dirt, the last snap of light caught in dark, a slow blue sink. So perfect some
refuse to believe its roundness. Again, this rainstorm. Bedroom window blessed with a downpour of oil, thunderheads bright as cracks in Christ’s reveal, all below a slick roar of other gods.
But it’s deep, this cold that swallows the body—a whale’s song glides down shimmering streams of tracks, a slim wet rail of ice for this swim firmly set in the center of this flat town.
Bloated, old swerving giants. Rust-toed caravan of bodies in forgotten commerce; night filled with the cold melodies of metal, the thick steamy whistles gleam on half-frozen oaks.
In moonlight, these hard whales silver. Like unexpected spirits, swimming to the sound & song of their underwater dance dragged onto land; Jonah twitching, slurring his words. Even below
freezing, nothing stops: these snoring vessels dance in the void when all you see around is ice, puddles. Solace of the sky’s own reflection, the world between nothing more than a crack on
this mirror, standing in the way of everything. Tracks leading every which way. Whether or not we move, this dance keeps going to a dawn we never get to see, clouds cracked with gold
full-steam engine ahead. The glittering whales whistle, filling the open-air market with surprise; fear. Streets suffocated in a smell of rain, memory: window cracked open to humid pines,
a sweet peach tobacco leaf burns & floats inside my bedroom, a slur of voices & the crisp snare of wine glasses, the distinct soft plop of a ping pong ball landing in a cup of frothy malt
liquor followed by the cheers that deserves—stirred, suddenly awake in a new bed, a foreigner that, for a second, believes he is home, the voices familiar like a party too good to remember.
Giants swoon somewhere in the distance, a desperate call into the night that won’t reply. This then is the matter of distance: slow, cold waves; a rattling moan both far & on the windowsill
yet somehow layering into itself, the echo water makes when stirred in a cup, the wail a needle sings while scraping wax. The night is a song that the foreigner feels drift down the back
of the neck. A burden, all this music: the air not lost to a heave of fucked lungs, the soft drum of the heart held with one hand, or both. Around us bodies & worlds of water crash on asphalt
the song of the heavens falling. Even these bodies, the hard metal whales of the Midwest translate the weight of living into direction. Cargo as means itself; as end. Lungs sustained
by the hot faith of buoyancy: the knowledge of men drowned in the reef, lake-bottoms. In his own bed, in his old hometown; the last rain of summer. Somewhere there’s a wail, a run-away
train forced to a stop. Open windows, two bodies on a new bed. Knowing, can they continue, rolling song into iron, past the eye’s limited horizon; stomach to stomach, simple as breathing.
Esteban Ismael lives in San Diego where he teaches literature and writing workshops. In 2016, he was awarded First Prize in Poetry in Dogwood and named a Second Rounder in the Austin Film Festival’s teleplay competition. His poems are forthcoming or have recently appeared in Conduit, The Journal, Spillway, Poetry Daily, Dogwood, and The Massachusetts Review, among other fine journals.