Fish swim through them.
They collect things no one has seen
For millions of years.
They know names of things we have
Never heard of and can say who dwells
There. They speak to fish and are understood.
Their dreams are of high cliffs. They imagine
No one will ever reach their summits.
They breed their own animals.
They used to have a religion but it is
On the bottom of the ocean now. Only
The flashing of light on wave tops is remembered.
They have no concept of rooms and often
Believe they are clouds. They change shape almost
As often. They desire the sky and feel they can
Not live without it. They are right about everything.
Occasionally they understand the nature
Of lakes. They talk of trees and glaciers
As children talk of toys and dreams.
They think nothing can stop them
And have no concept of the dead.
There is never enough room.
Time gives them incredible gems
Which they hide and eventually forget.
They invent weather and always talk
About it among themselves.
They learn by folding the earth.
They learn by pushing against one another.
They are able to recall immense herds of bison,
The passenger pigeon, the great reptiles.
Her eyes were fire opals.
The night took her for a lover
But she did not stay with him
Her kisses were fire opals.
The shades of the jungle
Clustered about her and
Against the smallest of any light.
Her skin was fire opal.
Fire itself tried to hold her
But her appetite was great.
She ate entire mountains in a single
Day. She was unquenchable.
Her breath too was fire opal.
The Arctic and the Antarctic
Fought over her, throwing huge,
Perfect blue icebergs into the sea.
They tried to dress her, but she alone
Was fire opal and only mirrors
Could hold her and only water
Knew her name, and she spoke it
Alone to me.
“As Greenfoot slow she moves
Among the Seasons.” ............Robin Williamson
Water mixes with water and it is my dreaming
That goes away. I am standing on a street
Corner in a small city I have visited before
But am unable to recall its name or where
It is located. There is a moon out but it is
Daytime. It has a slightly violet color.
I realize that I will soon be dead and that
Lives are very quickly forgotten, names
No longer recognized and in vain I struggle
To recall why I thought I could meet you here.
My spirit spreads thin and I keep thinking
That I might recognize some symbol or shadow
That will give me a clue to this woven labyrinth.
I conclude I must have been following you.
Why else would I have this dagger in my hand?
I first thought it was a jewel or some other deception
But it is a serious dagger that has become part
Of my hand without my realizing this has happened.
I try to claim this is only a circumstance, that I
Am unable to name anything and merely guess
At this landscape, its dense bamboo groves,
The trickling of water, the unexplained color
That belongs to either heaven or hell. This
Does not matter any longer.
I catch a glimpse of you slipping around a tree
And raise my dagger, beginning a pursuit.
I hope that I am not here for long and that
There will be a way out of this that will preclude
Suffering. I see your coat and it is orange and black
Stripes. It is then I recognize this garden, abandon
All hope of return and recall perfectly that you
Are the tiger and I am some eccentric music
Brought here to dance with you in this way.
THE CLOTHING OF THE SOULS
It was Ramon who told me the lights had come
Out of the forest. I did not believe him. The lights
Never came out of the forest. Most people didn’t
Even know they were there in the first place.
Are you sure? I asked him but I knew he was
Telling the truth. He never said anything
That wasn’t true.
We had seen the lights in the forest when
We were teenagers. Far past Mullandy’s
Old farm, out where there weren’t trails
Any longer, where we knew the larger
Animals lived, we had first seen them.
There was a crystal quality about them.
They refracted light and often seemed
To hover about four feet off the ground.
They were usually seen in dense groups.
They moved quickly and seemed to sense
When someone was looking at them.
It was impossible to follow them.
They moved in the night air as through
A labyrinth, twisting, forming colored
Chains of light that flitted and dodged
Before one. It was like we were not
Supposed to see them ever.
Twice we had seen them make swirling
Circles and we knew we had heard a music
Coming from them but not truly from them but from our
Heads, which filled with this music when they swirled.
We had watched them for years but never learned
Much about them. We knew they could change
Colors at will and that they had some kind of communication
About them. They never came closer than the meadows
And even then it was rare for them to do so.
Now they were in the streets of our town
Like exclamations about the shapes night
Could take. They would surround certain
People and swirl around them slowly at first,
Then with a ferocity that should have frightened
The people but apparently they could not see
These lights. They were our domain only.
This continued for about three weeks,
Well toward the full moon. We noticed
The larger animals had come closer
To the town as well. Then just as suddenly
As it had started, it stopped.
We have been gifted by some great power.,
Ramon said. Now when we look at others
We can see the clothing of their souls.
We can see how their souls are moving
In this universe. All that coming and going
Is only the language of the stars. Wear
Your soul as if it were a bracelet made of diadems.
Give it to all you meet on this crazy planet.
This light will appear to us as what we call
The stars. We will recognize others who
Can see this way. They will name the stars.
We will be able to pronounce these names for them.
OUT OF LUCK
We have no right to be here.
“A silver planet in another sky.”
The long tips of our wings almost
Touching the ground, even as we sit
High in the trees overlooking our village.
The collection of sounds here has been
Hand-selected by other poets
Who have run out of luck.
They have became gray and finger
Their weapons as if trying to decide
Something that, at one time, was quite
Important. They have done nothing
But to erect a different kind of meaning
Here at the gates of this place.
They change constantly, like translations
From foreign languages, myths
Of nothingness, jagged remnants
Absolved of all boundaries, clawing
Their way toward the tree we occupy,
Believing we can bring them either
Oblivion or immortality.
They become as waves crashing
Against the shore.
TRYING TO GET THROUGH THE MIRROR
Touching happiness briefly
As its train moves through what
May be a moment or an eternity.
We are so easily confused.
Do not look too closely at these words.
Everything is here. Nothing is lost.
The faces will leave us, sliding into mirrors
Right in front of our eyes. A glow
We will beg to be part of, for we
Believe we are leaving this place,
When it is only the reflection
Abandoning all its corridors,
Slipping into the perfect sunset.
I beg you call these words a destiny,
Nothing less, that all that one could
Possibly become is one moment
Of our discovered lives.
Yet when we sit at the table
At the end of the day,
Time offers us the choicest morsel
This is forgetfulness.
Forgive me the ephemeral, forgive me
The unchangeable path, the complete lack
Of language spreading through this afternoon.