Gillian Cummings

They Break Open in Sun but Stay Dark

You have been many people
but none of them are you. You live
in a place of dogwood petals fallen
on lake water. You live in a place of sleep.
You don’t call the petals bracts, or the white-
tipped garlic mustard weeds, or the bees busybodies
built of honey where they plumb the plump, far-
flung centuries of peonies. You say all these are
the hollows brightness makes once the bones
of sorrow won’t speak. Or break. Or sift the book
of wind into ashes. You once heard of God
and thought, Oh, but to name a thing power cuts
humility into thousands of signatures writ on leaves
that just want to stay leaves. And you have been a leaf.







Gillian Cummings is the author of My Dim Aviary, chosen as the winner of the 2015 Hudson Prize from Black Lawrence Press and forthcoming in November 2016. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Boulevard, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Laurel Review, and in other journals.