A PLACE SELDOM DISCOVERED
There is a certain majesty
That lives still in the highest places
Where there remain palaces and magic
Lands of story books. Birds of light,
Even golden light and clouds of many
Colors piled up against each other, so
The whole place seems a stage for fairy
Tales and diadems, oh single rose,
Of song of the day true and fair
Maidens and spells, the best of manners,
These things grew.
We were sitting on the edge
Of the meadow just where it begins to lift
Toward the high lakes and
The stoney outcroppings and
Small woods and copses.
It had to have been the place, for nothing
Else could have graced our language this way
With phrases like this. Who ever spoke of children’s
Tales and storybooks spells and things like these
And those? And so we left it to the land, made
A marker to be set next to the stream where
We rested telling others to take their time here.
Once does not encounter places such as this
Often, and less seldom sees them push at words
To get them spoken of in poems armed for so
Many other purposes than to have pure delight come
RUNNING OUT OF WORDS
I thought the sound music and ran
To embrace it, whole seas filled
With symphonies, cantatas, arias,
Sonatas spiraling forever upward.
It was not music. It was you.
I thought I could map the roads
Of the heart; thought I knew the
Ways and byways, naming the doors
That change the night to glory, the coolness
Of the moon, a reflection of language, words
Millions of miles away. This surely was
A kind of dancing. The heart placed before
The spiral staircase, the top barely visible,
Angels twined in the hair of mystery, a
Way of being that defies time,
The edge of the canyon,
Further than one has ever been before.
Late night with sinks full of dishes and whispers,
When the candles are low and neither of us
Is feeling very well. Even death and sickness
On every hand. Breathing into your mouth,
Year after year, morning after morning,
Running out of words and saying with the body,
The eyes, a motion of a hand, the wisp
As we move through and then across the wind.
There, right there, right fucking there, I love you.
I AM THE MOON
A frightful symmetry
Seen through the leaves of night trees
Just as the moon clears their confines.
I will tell you that this is only your grief
Speaking and that you do not desire death.
You will attempt to argue through drunkenness
And you will leave, sleep dressed as madness
Wraps your brain and stops the parade.
Suddenly the moon cracks open the night,
Filling it with its delicious light.
It plays with our imagination.
“I am the moon," it says. “I am the moon.”
Most things are without sense.
We make the most of what we have,
Drive ourselves to understand in broken
Cars, demanding the extra mile.
I hear you breathing, but it does not seem
To be a rest, rather, the trough of a wave,
The catching of the moon in a glass,
The surface of a great totally transformed.
Somewhere, just outside of where
You live, a field opened up and swallowed
An entire portion of history as if it were
The wind. This was not an earthquake,
Tornado or a flood. It was not wind or weather
Of any kind at all. Yet all was a total loss.
Memory is locked in cells, a billion patterns
Whirling round a web of friendships, songs,
School days and incidental sightings: you riding
Past on your bicycle on a clear Spring day,
The first roses still struggling against the cool
Toward the seasons, giving us notice.
And then all is gone. Those people who lived
Here, or near here eighty or more years ago,
Are no longer vertical, no longer blessed with light.
They have no vices. We walk the same places
They did and there is not one thing we know
We notice strange configuration of buildings,
A fence that has no purpose, a row of trees,
A handful of houses that “have always been here.”
We watch the opening of the leaves and the flowers.
Look far into the easing of evening across our sight.
Remember all the names of friends, the kinds of music
That we recognize. May memory serve you well.
Here are bridges. They were built long before you
Were born. This one connects one city to another;
This a country to yet another. This road here is old.
It was built because an English king needed to get
To the racetrack more quickly. It runs along the forest
Edge, skirting one hundred villages. We do not know
The names of these places. We name them with our breath.
Our breath names nothing. All places change. All naming too.
We told them there wasn’t going to be
Any room, the stars were already there,
The spaces between them already well
Defined, without need of amplification.
No use. There they were. An entire line
Of them, sitting there like a promise made
So long ago it was only known in stories
Told over and over, until no one was sure
Where the truth was, if the lights could
Really be this bright or if there really was
Singing like we heard? It seemed so familiar
Yet as far away as morning is from night,
As longing is from distance, as wishing is
From song. We called loudly, unhinging
Great clouds of colored gasses, spinning
Them outward as discrete messages, targeted
As emotions are targeted in arguments between
Lovers. They smiled. “We are your
Own reflections,” they replied. “We are your moon,
Your stars, your whirling planets, your language even.
“We are meaning itself. Of course there is no room
For us. It is our contract with you. If it were not
So, you would be myth, remembered stories only. You
Would not know why you were here, what you
Were to do, why time displays the clothing it prepares.
You would feel as if you were alone in all the universe,
Thinking love and life as a highest reality.
Honestly now, do you think we would leave you there?
Come closer. Learn the words to this song. Sing it with us.”
FOR d.a. levy
Oh little duck squat in your beer.
Such raggedy mornings lope up the hill
And empty their pockets into my room.
I remember April on the coast of France
Wind coming in over the tops of waves
And pushing against the shore.
And now this soft light moves
In and out the door wearing the sun
Like it was a gun belt, aiming the mind
Of the child at the stars and firing.
I spoke to you many times
Before you died, thinking this
Was the only way to know you.
Now you are gone and still I speak
With you. The conversation
Continues. How is this possible?
It seems a body is not all that
Necessary. It functions only
As identification: a place
Where all kinds of information
Collect. Emotions, dreams,
Singing, my looking at you this way,
The flames leaping from your fingers,
A means of realizing love once and
For all, so I may kiss you at least.
Then we no longer
Inhabit this form.
Sound ceases its kingdom.
Still I learn from you.
Still I keep this poor skin.
Still I can tell you everything,
Any time, all the time.
You can do the same.
This too is speaking.
Sound need not be
Heard to become song.
At the risk of seeming clinical I have delegated a deliberately precarious number of explicit yet loquacious quasi-analytical observations concerning excessive verbosity as an endemic proclivity in higher academic information and it subsequent promulgation to the larger field to the attention of your committee.
I trust you will regard this information as privileged and deal with it ethically and with respect to its controlled dissemination outside of interested study areas.
It is the fall's first chill: They meet.
–Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt