Elliott Niblock
Prayer to the Reader

I want to tell you that the world has changed,
that the search for a settling soul is over,
that daylight does not darken the tree line
same as it always has. I want to tell you
traces, whits of white light and unfolded earth
still shine beneath these vacuous forms,
beneath this leafless skin, I want
to let the fallen firs fade into the body of the dirt,
lie lacquerless along a ground ungraved, to locate
life in how hair catches lamplight, the forest-moon.
I want to tell you that I do not want anything
from you, no pure-pillowed whisper in the night,
no postured, lentic letter lost, bottle-stopped and
bobbing silent, unsunk in some black-waved sea.
I want to tell you that grass will still grow,
that these bone-tongued tendons tell us
no one can live a half-life, that mine is
still a faith unfeigned. I want to tell you
your breath does not surprise me anymore.

December: Solstice

I want to apologize for the lack
of morning. How this carapace
of cloud cover deletes the day

before it begins. I want to tell you
the wind’s mouth gnaws at our faces
for a reason. I want to lie

down in a kiddie pool full of petrol.
I know I am a piece of shrapnel
who can’t stop kissing the femur.

I am the cigarette lighter’s
wet flint spinning under thumb.
No one lives here without giving and

taking some blood. Really,
I’m sorry—I can’t stop frost
from seething down the mountain.

Can’t keep your face in my hands
from falling into mud and oil.
Eventually, this dirt is a wolf

eating its young. The trees’
leaves blood money. I know—​
sky should be easier.

Elliott Niblock is a poet from Wisconsin, living in Montana. His poems have appeared in The Boiler, Marathon Literary Review, pacificREVIEW, Prick of the Spindle, Temenos, and elsewhere. A graduate of Macalester College, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Montana, he works as a freelance writer, dividing his time between Missoula, and itinerancy.