ZERO + ONE
No thing, a zero in the amber of time, then one.
At the edge of the mind a soft rime: then one.
The brook was running clear. Now it’s gone.
I’m here, cried the killdeer, I’m here. Now it’s gone.
Jewels of rain like We’ll grow rich with water,
Like every number were prime. Then one.
We built a small house in the womb of the woods.
Twice you gave birth there. Now it’s gone.
A storm sky etched by lightning, dissolved by light.
Twelve bodies trenched with lye, then one.
My name flashed in your mind, the familiar
Pale specter in the mirror. Now it’s gone.
On the horizon, tank columns, shattered sun.
The force of force is two—a rhyme—then one.
I kept one swan, black, in the cameo I wore
Around my neck like fear. Now it’s gone.
Nine grapes eight windows seven plains six fires
Five priests four dogs three crimes two heathens one…
In the dark eye of the night the moon brimmed,
An incandescent tear. Now it’s gone.
In the meadow of despair grows nothing plus nothing
Plus nothing in knots of brooklime. Then one.
In the morning, the fever broke like a horse.
All your life: a ringing in the ears. Now it’s gone
From the diamond fire walked the eight legs
Of the bodhi spider, numerator, sublime earthen one.
You held your third finger to the statue’s third-eye.
In your mouth a ruby appeared. Now it’s gone.
We made love in the corner of the laundromat.
Many deaths. Many lives. Many times. Then one.
Quietly, the maple tree undressed itself at our feet.
We had something, Matt, my dear. Now it’s gone.
Matt Rader is the author of several books of poetry including Ghosthawk (Fall 2021). His poems, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared widely nationally and internationally. His work often addresses chronic illness and ecology. He lives on unceded Syilx territory in Kelowna, BC, where he teaches Creative Writing at UBC Okanagan.
This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 18:1 Invisibility