THE LOSS: VETERANS DAY
The arcades throw long shadows
On the houses and walkways.
The golden note.
The purest throat of evening.
Someone asks for a blanket.
The night is cold.
Someone else makes up
Oh, even more golden.
The moment has a wound
In its side. We try to soothe
It with cool cloths and water.
You had asked me to come back.
I was afraid of almost everything
But the flowers along the walks
And even they had teeth.
Everything has changed now.
There are rows and rows
Of white stones along the hills.
Pretty, pretty, all close together.
The flags fluttering above all their boxes.
THE POEM OF WATER
The story is unrepeatable. It has no
Walls but dominates dreams with its
Huge body, so huge civilizations may be lost there.
Never finding their way, such a labyrinth
Undoing our tongues by refusing speech
As we open our mouths, no longer able
To breathe, lost once more on our journey
As Ulysses was lost.
I remember the last time standing
On the banks of the Niagara River,
The Upper Rapids.
The rocks seemed to be exploding,
The sound clear and loud but still
We were able to talk to one another.
Then it happens, for over a mile
Eternity opens it mouth so wide
We swoon upon the river banks,
Gazing full into your body.
You are the element.
Oh water that is all things to me
From life, to death, filling my body
With your flowing. Am I in love with you
Or is it that you are in love with me?
I seem to speak as you do, drop by
Drop; some clear, some clouded.
I do not know what I am trying
To say. My library pours from its shelves,
Filling all available space, pours through
The windows, through the town and city,
Never stopping. We hardly notice
Where all of language pours back
Into your element, washes itself
Within you and returns to our lips
As we sing endlessly to your mystery.
NAMES IN THE WIND
The wind has other things to do,
You tell me and I tell you.
This morning it is out for names.
In city streets, in country lanes.
It sweeps them up like leaves
And throws them past our ears
And we can hear them.
We can hear their mothers call them
Back to the house for dinner.
Searching for them in the Summer,
Before the darks of Autumn,
When the year begins to stumble.
In the Winter when among the snowflakes,
Through the sledding and the skiing
And the voices called across white
Fields caught close against forever,
They tumble down upon our ear drums
And then lose themselves so quickly.
We can barely understand them
Though we try to hear each name.
The game, the same, as always
When the wind decides it knows
Us and finds other things to do.
It can name the living, call the dead.
You tell me and then again
I too have other things to do.
So you tell me and listen for the wind,
Please do. You tell me and then
You know, I will tell you.
The sea was loud with blue.
So loud it could not contain it
And tossed it up toward the sky
Loading it with reflections and
Bouncing light off the clouds
So that all of them near the shore
Had the look of a tumbling surf
To them. This illusion was confirmed
By the onshore breeze which
Slammed the clouds against
The hills reaching toward that
Same sky and glistening in
Millions of shades or green
As if introducing itself to the sea.
This was a clear morning.
Tired from the climb, I stood
On a promontory that had
A cliff that slid all the way
To the true surf itself,
Complaining below to the hollows
Of the rocks, arguing with the
Gulls about perfection.
Even these elements knew
Exactly what perfection was
And worked together to capture
The hour and show it to the sun.
This is the part where I get
Really scared. I think I will get caught
In this place by the sea and not be
Able to find my way out, pushing
My hands against the words with the sea
Just on the other side of them,
Keeping me from getting back to the world.
The gulls seem to cross this line
Easily and continue to make noise
In my ears. The cliffs are much too steep
But I can see a pair of tigers
Moving from ledge to ledge, measuring
Each step with a trochee foot.
The clouds begin to dissipate.
Their pretty dream bodies move toward
The higher hills, the olive groves.
Beyond that, the sounds of goats come
To me. What was fear becomes
Only a part of the morning. Startled
Song birds burst from the small, deep
Green shrubs and disappear even
Before one can focus on them.
This is a way out. The trail is not
At all as I thought. I take a drink
And begin to whistle a folk song.
SUMMER IDYLL WITH BUTTERFLY
The cabbage butterfly has just
Discovered that the world
Was so much larger than
It ever imagined. It careens
Across the afternoon flashing white
Wings with their dark spot.
The whole place is so impressive
It must fill itself with Summer.
Everything is alive right now.
There is simply no other time
Anywhere else in the universe.
What we imagine still is not enough.
I hold you here. Kiss your lips.
My body sweeps yours and your
Body has never imagined
Such a thing could happen.
Even in autumn’s glow
Or deep inside a cabin
In the deep of Winter’s snow,
The golden crackling of the evening
Fills the air with voices of a
And it will teach you there
And there and here and so
The wind outside the room
Is so white with snow
It is impossible to see.
Opening your eyes, I will fade
Before you in the wind.
I am on the edge of a lake in Summer.
Come here, please once more.
Touch me as I imagine touch could be.
“THE MYSTERIOUS LOVE OF THINGS”
—Jorge Luis Borges
We have for them and them for us.
How easy it is to unseat any color
Into something that is no longer aware of itself
Or of us as we hurry through the labyrinths
Time gives us for a chance to know
Error or to know truth.
We thank ourselves for the blue
Of the ocean and it is not us at all.
It is the conversations between memory
And things learned by the body,
Burns on the hands, inside the mouth.
Admonitions of ourselves unaware
Yet constantly striking poses that
We may learn to handle those impulses
Where we will have to dance
And be impeccably pristine about it all.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!