They Are Breathing All Around


There are thousands of hummingbirds.
I watch them for hours in the morning.
They have replaced snow on the mountains.
Their throats are fuses. 
They fire from their cannons.


The mountains release all the animals. 
Like doves at a wedding.
You sit listening to them in the dark.
Love they are right next to you. 
They are breathing all around.


Trees rise up and move toward the ridge.
Stands of elk are what is left behind.
They are almost invisible but we see them.
We move quietly into their midst.
Sharpen our beautiful antlers against every rock.

We lay our bodies out in front of the fire.
You wrestle me into the right shape.
Kindling breaks and settles into burning.
There is only one true purpose. 
I am the softest emptiest animal in your hands.


A thunderstorm keeps arriving.
Orange cream puff clouds stack to infinity.
The mountains bite down.
We are right at the center of the maw.
We are where the tongue goes down.


We climb the side of a mountain to a pond.
The pondís eye is closing.
We climb down the mountain.
The aspen leaves make their rattle.
This is a place where I am not a tourist.


Between us and stars is hardly any air.
We take whatís left for ourselves.
Beauty strings our eyes up.
It ties them to the door knob.
We tough it out under the blanket.


A shadow of a bear streams behind the real bear.
I confuse the two.
The dark fur and its replication.
Somewhere ahead rocks frenzy falling water.
We rise up and rise up and rise up.


My childhood map unrolls for you.
We go to the other side to explore.
We are in a hurry to get there before dark.
The big horn sheep arrive on silent elevators.
From the depths they appear just for us.


Beads from your iced coffee on the varnish.
We let them spread into puddles.
The cabin fractures in morning light.
I crack eggs in the pan for breakfast.
This is where I always want to be standing.

Sarah Bartlett lives in Portland, OR.  She is the co-author of two chapbook collections: Baby On The Safe Side (Publishing Genius, 2011) and A Mule-Shaped Cloud (horse less Press, 2008). Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish, Filter, New Delta Review, NO÷, Burnside Review, Raleigh QuarterlySixth Finch, and elsewhere.