A SPILLING OF SALT
Frost begins to describe
The stories of the journey the air
Has taken to arrive here on this
Three or four very small yellow birds
Flit from tree to tree punctuating
The morning with color and the fluttering
Of tiny wings, chirps and peeps,
Little explosions of feathers
Confessing joy and mystery.
A gray cat descends a spiral
Staircase attached to the side of a building.
It too is the conversation.
Steam from its nostrils,
Our own breath clouding our faces.
This morning may be the first morning
Of the world. It could very
Well have been this way. We have
Our own ‘big bang’. A zygote that
Eventually manifests itself as
A morning such as this, for it
Gives the very same sensation
When we place ourselves in its bliss.
The cat frightens the birds.
The birds fly away.
The sun melts the frost on the windows
And bounces light throughout the room.
We continue to talk to each other.
The cold mist of our breathing
Lifts above our heads and disappears
THE REAL TALENT
Blinking into the sun.
My mouth is full of sky.
I close my eyes.
I don’t want them
To see, to ask why,
Concerning anything at all.
She is squeezing my hand and
“Why are you here?
What are you pondering?”
I smell the heat coming in
Off the desert. It is sweet.
Soon it will rain. Soon there
Will be lightning coming from
A clear sky. Then the clouds
Will begin the naming.
I refuse to open my eyes.
“You’ve forgotten all about us,”
She says. She traces a circle
Over my heart and draws a line
Across my mouth. "We were here
When you believed in things like this.”
Her voice is lovely. It feels like
A harp sounds when she speaks.
“Who then...” I start to say.
“Hush, soon enough you will recall.
Open your eyes when I tell you
To do so. Do not hesitate.
Then, close them again quickly.”
I am about a thousand feet
In the air above Paris
But I am not falling.
I have a feeling that I’ve known
How to do this for a long time.
The eyes of the stars.
The wind wizards son.
The river is a silver snake that lifts
To greet me. It says my name.
“Close your eyes,” she says.
This is the real talent.
I find myself in my own bed.
Light is coming in through the window
Filtered by the leaves. There is a lovely breeze
Blowing. It too says my name. “Close your eyes,”
It seems to say. I do.
THE SINGER IN THE BATTLE
The dogs clearly were baited
Or they would never have come
Down from the hills to these streets.
The searchers knew we would be here and they had heard
Our songs when we were in the North last Winter.
They knew we could generate real warmth with our voices
Alone. This would never do in the villages. There was money
To be made in selling fuels and our singing would never do.
By the time we realized they were tracking us it was very late.
Ramon remained unfazed by it all. “They do not know these dogs.
We know their voices. We have their songs. They will not
Harm us. Listen.” And he made the dog-soothing voices.
The dogs stopped their howling and growling and began
To slow their walk, listening to the forest stories in Ramon’s
Throat. We could hear the soldiers following behind them.
They began to fire their guns in the air, trying to frighten
The dogs into tearing at us. Then we could hear the bullets
Clipping through windows and wooden doorways. We ran.
But this time we had the dogs at our sides and we shared
Their breathing. We could make the edges of the Baul forest
If we moved very quickly. We faded into the dark a full half
Hour before they realized both our army and their dogs were gone.
OUTSIDE THE ROOM
We have noticed a drifting in the atmosphere.
It has centered itself in our hearts.
We have tried to keep it outside the room
But it has been of no use.
Birds of unusual color have been seen
Circling the most secret of our feelings.
They make what might be called songs
But do not sound as if they were made
By birds, rather by the broken parts
Dreams relieve themselves of when
They run from us, just before consciousness
Returns, tearing themselves from the webs
Sleep drapes us with when we dwell there.
How often we see the heart’s atmosphere
Disturbed by the charging of deep emotions
To find that rarified air required
To keep a rhythmic balance inside the many
Rooms where we live our lives.
We have learned not to fear those
Beasts that keep us from recognizing
The winds that surround us.
Outside, the room is littered with trinkets
We find familiar but do not recognize.
We gather them into piles and burn
Them. The smoke can be seen
Throughout the entire world.
HER FINGERS WERE ABNORMALLY LONG
Those scattered lights,
The half-remembered music,
Old as if a horizon of silver,
Amethyst, red-violet and cinnamon.
From the balcony I could
See the gathering beauty in such
Things as these.
They were not something I had
Thought of. The lights were
The souls of men, the music
The tenderness of hope
Entering into the heart
With charms as lovely as poetry.
The night would come with
Or without me and my thinking.
My heart was filled with a clarity
I could barely comprehend except
By continuing haphazardly into
The scene before me, reaching
To recall an ancient trick
I had heard of while still a child.
Recalling, it was said, "This is the real truth."
CLAIMING TO KNOW THE SUNRISE
I have left the golden skien unraveling.
It makes a glow in all of this poetry.
It allows me to use images such as
A silent flower on the edge of dreaming,
To press my luck with the idea of oblivion
By claiming I know the sunrise
That shapes such things when they decide
To claim our skins for sails,
Our blood for seas upon which they launch
I do not recognize the boats of my memory
As they approach the quay with
Their nervous mornings, thinking I will
Recall the tribute they bring
To me, full of mirrors and doors,
Numbers, and names.
But I no longer know them.
I stand looking at the sea,
Dwelling on vague dates when
Incredible things have happened,
Such as your existence and mine
Torn from this same sea gazing,
Built of secrets,
Full of brightness and tasty berries.
THE SOFT TREAD OF THE TIGER
This is no way to behave.
The villages at night. The clouds
Unashamed at their rain, their snow,
Their quiet shadows on the surface
Of the water. The children coming
Down from the hills, the words that
Water makes to tell us of our thick
Dreaming, the color out of the mouths
Of animals, as beautiful in all their
Forms as animals might be.
And the fire held in the hands.
And the face finally looking away
From the murder and the cruelty,
Away from the crowds of bodies
Fouling the rivers and even the seas.
This is more than these things. This is the
Perfect rose and it does not grow
On the fields of blood, but in the
Heart that touches the lips of woman,
Touches the lips of man and the wonder
They make of each other.
Angels blooming from the skin
That such a sound as this
May penetrate both earth and heaven,
Throwing all the gates wide open.
The soft tread of the tiger
Behind our eyes. We rise up
Into the air above the terrible
Weeping that is also ourselves.
We will dance. We will dance it all.
The horror will lose its words.
It will forget its rotten song.
Its legs will crumble from its body
And their stink shall cover them
Walking near the great oceans
We stop upon the headlands,
Gaze out into the deepest
Water and do not know where
The moon is tonight, nor the stars,
Nor anything except ourselves
Hung here upon these high places,
Fumbling for words to describe
There aren’t any cities
This big, I thought.
Then I remembered
That this was a poem.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!