Look at the stars and
do not think of your own insignificance.
They are closer than you think:
let them sparkle between your teeth
and draw your lungs to stillness,
let the full night wind its arms
behind your head, and you will find
that eternity settles in
at the center of your body.
You know these are the same stars
in which Abraham counted his children,
the same lights that guided
slaves to freedom,
the same corded belt of the hunter called
Anu by the Babylonians,
Nimrod by storytellers in old Hungary,
Orion by the ancient Greeks —
they looked up and saw their heroes
and their gods, but tonight you
tilt your head back and think you see
the reflection of two eyes, blown huge
like a fractal's enormous patterns
with little me, maybe
with tiny you.
Yours is the song of the billionth
atom in the crystal, the thousandth
tapestry thread, the fiftieth
mosaic tile, the thirteenth
puzzle piece, the first
mouth to speak of the infinite
thoughts that only
you can dream,
so release your heavy shoulders
and sleep sound, wrapped up
in this old comfort.
You may remember the occasion
of your birth, or of the world's
beginning . . .
you may remember that
long ago, someone took the time
to number those distant suns and
named every one.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
I’ve been alive for a little while--
You for longer, ambling on cobblestones and
gravel paths that coat your feet with cinders.
You wondered: when will walking feel like home
when Sun has circumscribed its name
around your shape so many times, and you
have circumvented hers when once you spoke
it hopefully, linked its sounds with yours.
It’s felt like forever but you never said forever
until forever felt like someplace you might be.
Those syllables aren’t strange, though I wonder
how we know that they are true: for-ev-er,
the length of time our human brains can chew
but not digest, bubble gum swallowed in second grade.
Someone told you it would stay there all your days,
and how are we to know any different? I picture you in ashes,
though you said you’d rather slip whole into the sea
as you are, or be buried without a wooden box.
I asked if I could hire someone to hoist you
overboard, someone to dig the grave.
You picture me in a black dress—not because it’s
tradition, because you simply know.
And though it’s only mind-forever, it feels like longer
if my burned-up body gets to mix with yours like
our living limbs intertwined in evening and at dawn.
I suppose it could be ghosts or God, whispering
Water and bloom, water and bloom,
and the hissing makes us sure our feet will step
in step until forever makes phantoms
of these early days of love.
Laundry (guest towels, running socks)
Iron (three dresses wrinkled since last Fall)
Dishes (the crock still caked with brie, the painted coffee mugs)
Read (essays or that book you borrowed? The chapter you keep promising?)
Exercise caution. You’ve fallen in love.
Sleep. By 10.
Sleep. Ok, 10:30.
Pray the dreams will stop. (The ones where he just stands there watching.)
Notice the changing leaves.
Notice the failing heel cap on my left black dress shoe. (Resolve to buy new shoes)
Pay bills. Borrow from Peter to pay Paul. Think about killing Peter.
Write a memory. Make it immortal.
Forget what happened yesterday.
Wait (for the train, eastbound)
Wait (for the words on your brain to appear on your lips)
Wait, but stop waiting. It’s already happening.
Lose at backgammon again, but keep trying.
Believe that you can win.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
I said person but meant man.
You heard boy in the space between.
I am a woman person.
I want you to see a woman person.
You are a man, fully grown.
You are a man who wants me to see a man, fully grown.
So I said person and you heard boy
because the girls before dressed up, paraded,
sighed girl, girl, girl, and boy, boy, boy,
and lover made them giggle,
husband made them dream of days but not beyond,
amoureux was foreplay because it sounded nice.
Partner was a word left over from the second wave,
its sack of spider eggs returned
to hatch on someone else’s skin.
I said person, then significant.
You said I am no trial.
No trial size, sweet teeth satisfied?
No trial for lies, our precursors’ crimes?
No trial period, conditional use,
but Darling, we’re all on probation.
(Happy transmitted better,
unruly reverberation supported
by the blood in your warm hands.)
I said person, diluted.
I meant woman and man, full strength.
These definitions fail but not completely.
Here are my arms, my eyes,
Trust, which sounds like rust, and might have been
had we stopped building shelters
and slept in the rain.
I see you are a man, fully grown.
I am a woman, undiluted.
Leaf, Leaf, Leave
One time I saw a leaf
in ombre green to red,
severed too soon from the
still-living—still staining, still clinging
in late September to summer’s
strong branches, bracing for the fall.
One time I saw a leaf
of smooth white paper
abandoned on the concrete drive
(beneath a tree, reddening for Fall),
flying off sheet by sheet
like doves from a branch’s sacrifice
in full, arresting flight.
One time I saw you leaf
through piles of sorted mail,
envelopes recording bills
already paid. You were searching
for love letters you might have dreamed
but wanted to be real:
a leaf from autumn pressed
between pages never read.
One time I saw you leave
but knew you would return.
I’d pressed leaves from the day
we made our promises, after all.
One time I saw you leave
but couldn’t watch you go.
You stood in the space between us
like a late September leaf
while I lay on the concrete,
a rotting arm, a paper bird,
wiser from the Fall.