That Burn Stone | Ryan Browne

Up you bolt out of bed
and count to ten.
The dog’s tags chime.

Each squirrel picks a path
along the tips of oaks.
I rub sleep out of my eyes

like coffee grounds.
You usually skip six,
like Oliver Sacks misspelled

sulfur with a ph instead of f,
not because of ignorance
or even tradition, really,

but because, like you,
Sacks still hears our songs
sung in the know-how:

that the number to follow four
could as easily be nope:
that without a nose you could never smell a rose:

that burn stone is brimstone is sulphur is sulfur:
that, of course, a yellow element
burns bright blue, melts a deep red.

Your song
is without the odor of feather
or hair or skin burning.

The bear still lives in the concave.
The skunk den is far from water.
The mothership, the mushroom cap,

the starburst garden all hover above
mountain ranges on a child’s globe.
Downstairs you’ll loop through the kitchen,

the dining room, the kitchen.
I’ll chase you, then reverse and catch you
looking back from looking over your shoulder

and scare you,
and you always fall for it and fall,
and will fall, right through the angle of sunlight

on the floor, bent down the wall,
and I’ll ask you: Casper,
what color is this? This. This.

Ryan Browne

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