a poem by
How often have you hacked your own limbs
Only to have them gathered and sewn
Back to your body again? Bruised tooth,
Long ocean of stars, lion rests in golden warmth
Of sun, lamb lies down in belly.
A thin wisp of hair risen from the head
Of a newborn child, whose eyes hold
Glimmer of ocean in sun, energy of birds.
Thin blue veins in arm, streams of breathing.
Each breath a countenance of fear.
Without focus or center, what to believe?
No longer the perfection of gold, silver,
Bronze, iron, speech, breath, eye, ear,
Fire, wind, sun, sky, from four to one-eighteen,
From angel to rocket.
You spoke of trains passing through town
Of your childhood. It sounded funereal,
Slow river of polished stones, riverbed
Of bones. Whistle, elephant's roar.
Metal carriage winding through town
Of dark windows, tall weeds in purple winds,
Blue voice of smoke, cacophony of crickets
And crows, Minerva's bird. Now awake
And see clearly now substance of air,
Invisible world in which the world
Stares out upon itself, transfixed
Having failed utterly to see.
A conflagration of pleasures, arguments,
Sleep, late afternoon dinners, only
Sometimes aware, looking and listening,
Seeing you and hearing you. Mostly,
It was common clutter of days, avoiding
Common plagues as best we could.
Yesterday morning, I awoke and saw you
Standing in the doorway. It was our daughter
And she was a young woman.
What to do now with ones life?
Men have lost their wives before:
Images of disaster crush us all.
The line of skin where bone thrust
From your abdomen and often ached.
The veins grow narrow.
Of infant's tongues and mother's milk,
Of the silence of earth turning in space,
Tide under swollen moon, birds perched
On window sill, dust and broken glass,
Dried insect carcass, yellow jacket and moth,
Fires of fresh wood in winter cabins,
Ice frozen to tiger fish, cool morning fog
In the Tetons, wild horses in the distance,
Their tense solemn muscles flutter,
Wind on river, bird wing, grass petal,
There as mountain is there, as dry brush,
Gleaming, hissing ashes of dying fire,
Silence sharp as blade edge. Parting wet hair,
A formality, the stone slab buried in grass,
Stone more actual than stone thought,
Buildings groan with weight of decade,
Jewelry of streetlight and sign in air,
Light, dying embers, of black mane,
White sails fluttering in ocean wind.
Together we should have crossed the water,
The dark water that resignedly separates.