Night has just begun to think
That morning might have dominion
Over its dark pathways and twinkling
Cities, its muffled sounds and hidden events.
It pulls away from the horizon,
Gathering its capes and cowls about itself,
Retreats to darker alleys, smaller conversations,
Behind the eyes of lovers still awake.
Its eyes were the color of the moon.
Its thoughts are as clouds. One cannot
Hear the wings of the owl who hears
the softest footsteps of the hurrying mouse,
The shrew and restless beasts condemned
To haunt the heart of darkness.
There should be no moving about and no
Sitting as the teeth break as the bones
Crack beneath the feet of night.
The light fades from its eyes.
I must admit I was trying
To scare you with a story
About a table in a room
That I came upon unexpectedly.
The room was open. I could see
The flickering red lights and the doors
Closing behind me with their
Muttered language of clicks and locks.
The table was to be named
‘The fear table’ and I was going
To shrink away from it and run
Toward a window showing a yellow
Moon that understood everything.
But no, as I came here I noticed
There were sentinels at the dream
Gates and that the air had
A flavor to it that called across
Decades recalling the face of a friend
Long dead and that this would only
Be a moment where you and I could
Gather—a moment only,
Our emotions charged with the fuel
That suspense brings on,
Given to it by a special secretion
The moment allows words to have
If they behave in a very particular
Way. I am sorry I do not
Have that way at my command.
I am over here at the end
Of these words sitting, looking
At the corners of the room,
Still looking at the same table
But unable to do anything about it.
If you allow your breathing to follow
Mine you can see the sentinels
Looking in the doors. We’re not going
To be able to leave here again.
They know we are here.
They too will watch the moon.
We will wait here looking at one another.
THE WINTER NORTH OF ROLZTK
Forgive me if I no longer
Remember the names of villages
That lie to the north of Rolztk.
It has been many years and no one
Has spoken their names to me
Since that time. I can recall them
After a fashion and remember they were
So lovely and bright and gay and
The women so beautiful. I also
Remember the dancing, how spirited
It was at the time.
Then too it was Winter and a cold
One with much snow most of the
Time and wind! Wind like we had
Never seen before or since. It whirled
The snow so fiercely that it was next
To impossible to see the buildings.
We would knock on any door we could
Find and were always allowed in, given
Vodka, seated next to the fire.
And we danced. The entire Winter
Was passed this way.
Before Spring we were required to leave.
We took the dogs and left at night.
The music inside the buildings still
Exciting, the women so beautiful.
The interiors so bright and filled
With laughing and good feeling.
We left before dawn, coursing into
The throat of the storms and made
For the South. I cannot recall
How long we travelled but we were
Nearly out of food when we reached
The Lodzak, the river, I mean
The river, surely you know it.
Yet now you are here, asking me
The names of those cities and
Discounting the tales we tell you.
Forgive me if I can no longer
Remember these names. Names
Are not what the journey
Was ever about. Whatever it was about,
It was not names and we were
So young and full of newness that
It seems a dream, yet I swear
It was not, no not at all.
“It began as a light buzzing
in the ears, a breeze that barely
moved the treetops and made
the ferns tremble.” ....A. Mutis, "Un Bel Morir"
It could move across the dew on the tops
Of the leaves. It would move
Like language through our shirts
Painting, mumbling, finding new
Ways to describe the shapes
The streets could make,
Try the doorways, insinuate
Its way into the keyholes.
I could so easily get lost here.
The crystal purity of gazing like
This into such a purity would
Easily allow these breezes to transport
Me far beyond any places where I could
Speak to you again. I would take
The form of an angel, one of
The higher choirs where to sing
Is constant and the light never
Changing. I would be there for
Ten thousand years and still be back
For a good cup of coffee in the morning
Waving a hello and finding your face again,
Would be gladness, as steady on
The bough, barely moved by any breeze
Or here high above all the tree tops
Watching the wind draw its imagination
Through the leaves, the choreography of
The spirit, the remembered language
Of a smile, the coiling and unraveling
As we make for shore, touching the
Sea birds as gracefully as their wings
Touch the air. And I shall hold
You close and sing in your heart to calm,
To smooth your fears and tears
Away as notes of the harp
Passing into our ears talking as
Music does, hearing this breeze
Without the slightest effort,
Falling in love over and over again
As each second consumes us,
As we consume each second.
I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.
Be sure to catch D.R. Wagner at A Starry Night Poetry Series tomorrow, Sunday, in Lodi. Scroll down to the blue board at the right of this for details.