There will be no moon tonight.
It has been arranged that no matter
What the weather, there will be
No shadows cast by the moon.
All things this evening are infinitely
Memorable. They will be forgotten
As flocks of sparrows quarreling on the
Walk will be forgotten within minutes
Of their departure. Surely you remember
Their quick sound as they flew
Through the Lombardy poplars to find
The sea breeze we are enjoying.
Everyone has gone inside but we
Have remained here as we have
So many times before. The dogs
Resting at our feet. The Autumn
Arranging things already. It is not a time
for us to go home.
We cannot see the way we came,
But here we are once again, sharper
Than the forms that wander
Here. They touch us as we pass.
We feel them try to tell us what
To do. They lurch on without a body.
We are perfect in the moment.
No questions asked.
This is the most ordinary of evenings.
We sit at the edge of the lawns
On yellow chairs and look up at the stars
That are a wash of color in the darkest
Sky. The air is filled with fireflies
So dense one can see the trunks
Of trees as they electrify the space.
And yet, it is an ordinary evening.
There have been many like it before.
We drink from glasses filled with ice.
Its tinkling is less than music,
But pleasant to our ears.
And yet, this is the most ordinary
Of evenings, with a comfortable
Temperature and no mosquitoes
Or large flying insects that collide
With us. And we speak softly,
Laugh, and gesture. There are candles
On the table. We look like night angels.
And yet, this is a very ordinary evening.
We have no way of knowing that it was
Once the dream of a great prince who
Ruled this place with blood and iron.
It is his dream we are inhabiting tonight,
More fully than he could ever do.
And yet, this is the most ordinary of evenings.
I, FOR ONE, CHOOSE RAIN
The bones were all disordered and covered
With a fine layer of dust. We were as
Surprised as morning that we had found
Anything at all.
We heard a voice crying out.
It sounded like it knew
Our names but we could not
Be sure. We could not be sure
Of anything. A green belt around
A pool of water, both deep and
Clear with a black bottom
That made the surface dance.
And it was exclaiming something
The entire scene was an accident
Of the tide. A blind wind and a blind
Water forced up to make a statement
That could never find words
But which would stand as firm
As God’s promise to a blind man
That he would see again. But no one
Ever saw. It became a clipped
Presence, never offering comfort.
I, for one, choose rain
As a veil. I will only see
What it allows; the edge
Of an alley, a man hurrying by
Bearing a large vessel that smells
Like coffee. He has long
Mustaches and wears a turban.
I had a fever and forget how the thing
Ended. She asked if there was real
Fire in my heart and I showed her
The pile of sticks I had gathered
To feed it. She looked deep
Into my eyes. I could see
Door after door closing, until there
Was only me and her once again.
Bones scattered all over the floor.
Everything looked like burnt wood
Or sounded like it anyway.
There were breaks between the buildings
That let the moonlight leak in
But it didn’t do any good.
And that smell, like something
That had been beneath the sea
For twelve hundred years.
They had showed us the masks
That were of hammered gold
With decorations in amethyst
And carnelian. The faces looked
Like people we knew in the villages.
That night the dreamers came down
In war chariots drawn by blue
Horses you could see right through.
They were mostly skeletons but
They were alive and pulsed
Colored light like great candles.
We didn’t want to go back to
The diggings when morning came.
We were told the fishing boats
Had been smashed to pieces,
The camp torn apart.
Great claw marks on the trees.
The docks looked like they
Had been burned
But there was no fire
And that smell that would not
Come out of our clothing.
He couldn’t tell if she had arrived yet. There was no way
to tell. He would sit by the window for a few minutes, get
up, look out the window, walk over to the door, open it, and
look at the night. There was no porch light. The traffic on
the interstate sounded like it had a cold or was trying to
explain something impossible to explain. He closed the door
and went back to the chair. She should be here by now, he
thought. Maybe she will hear me if I shout really loud.
He shouted really loud. The dog jumped up and started
barking. “It’s okay,” he said. “I was just seeing if she could
hear me.” The dog grumbled, took two steps and laid back
down. “She is never going to get here," he said to himself.
Headlights were coming down the street. “It’s her," he
thought, and straightened his belt so it was right in the center
of his trousers. The lights passed the house. She had told him
it was going to be like this but he didn’t believe her. He scraped
his index fingernail against his front teeth, carving it slightly.
His thoughts began to flash through his mind. “This is stupid,”
he thought. “My thoughts are like strobe lights. Everything is
The card has said, “You had better not be anywhere near that
house when I get home.” He had no idea why she should say
such a thing. The batteries were already connected to the big
alarum in the parlor. He got up and repeated his routine again.
“This could go one forever,” he thought. He knew he was right.
Outside he could hear birds making a terrible noise. For the first
time he had an idea of what she might have meant in the letter.
He got up again and walked to the door, locked it. A dull
booming began to come from the basement. He lit a match and
threw it out the window into the yard. There was a huge flash
of light. He told the police he could not remember anything at
all after that. “Why would she do something like this to me?"
he questioned. When he was finally conscious again, they made
him repeat the entire story again. He never mentioned the
Just before the surgery he thought he heard her voice in the
corridor outside the room. Before he could be certain, he was
unconscious and all the humming and clicking folded into his
brain and he stopped being sure of anything again. Except for
the dog. He was sure the dog knew what had happened. He
thought he could hear it whining but the dog wasn’t there.
He still couldn’t tell if she had arrived yet. There was no way
"These are the harmonies," he says,
Lifting them, precious globes,
From a carved wooden box dressed
In silver limp braid and chased
With delicate golden shells that tumble
Against one another when lifted.
“We have always known this to be true,”
He says, lifting one, a bright blue one,
Painted with a white mist so perfect
It could easily be sky or the eye about
To cloud the years with cataracts.
The harp music begins against the dull
White pillars of the morning rising.
"We prefer it this way," he says,
Arranging the meat and fruit on the
Breakfast table, offering a sweet
Grape juice to all who have gathered,
"This will be our day," he more than
Whispers, lifts the blue ball and hurls
It over the wandering sky.
THE MEMORY OF HER
When the memory of her left
It was as if an entire shelf
Of Antarctic ice cracked somewhere
Hundreds of miles inland and moved
Monstrously out to sea as slow as
A watch ticking, as long as
An entire Summer. People
Lived upon it for years.
But it was leaving and when
It was almost gone there were
Broken bits of ice in cocktails
And lemonade glasses in the backyard.
The baby crawling in the grass.
The family laughing.
Birds fledging their fluffy young.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix, and to those of you who've asked about us last night and today. Yesterday afternoon, a fire broke out in the woods behind our house in Diamond Springs. Thanks to the diligence of several fire departments, our home and the others in our complex were saved with little or no damage (none for us), though unfortunately there were some houses burned farther down the road. Needless to say, this is a hugely frightening event and we're still recovering, but thankful. Very thankful. (Happiness is standing on the side of a lake and watching the Cal Fire helicopters scoop up water!)