FOR THE CHILDREN GONE
These dreams that were our children,
We bury them in the silver of the seas.
I will ask you to dance with me for awhile.
And the music will be a waltz.
We will see Christmas when we were small
And the music was all around us and the magic
Was even in our clothing as well as our bodies.
I will ask you to stand on the top of the hill
On the North side of that copse of trees
We use for firewood in the Winter.
The wind will have at our coats and scarves,
Make them flutter about us as if they would leave
Our bodies as our souls do when we have lost
All of our dreams and our memories are distributed
To those who might find them in their own dreams.
And I will ask you to walk with me awhile
As Ebenezer Scrooge did in his night of troubled
Sleep that we too may gaze upon the children
One last time before the sea swallows them entire
And we are left in our little boat bouncing
Above the top of the waves, the sun glinting
Across their lips almost as if they could speak.
THE SMALL RAINE DOWN CAN RAINE
No one has seen us here.
Rain drips from the eaves of the roof.
She opens her hand. About five inches
Above it is a small gray cloud. It is raining
Into her hand. He looks closer at her hand.
There is a small house. It has a few lights on
Inside and someone is looking out
One of the windows at a 1948 Ford driving
Up the road from her wrist.
When the car stops and cuts its headlights,
A door to the house opens and a medium-size
Dog runs toward the car. The scene is all too small
To determine what breed of dog it is.
He hears a small, single bark.
Someone exits the car and runs
Toward the open house door, the dog following.
She closes her hand and everything disappears.
“He has come a long way to be here tonight,"
She says to me. "We should leave them alone
For awhile. Let’s go get something to eat,
Maybe a cup of hot tea would also be good."
BEGGING THE MUSE FOR MANY THINGS
I bend down to see the small opening
In the earth. Georgian Table music
Came from it. Yellow-jacketed meat-eating
Wasps pour from the hole.
They are confused. They understand the nature
Of dreaming. One cannot hear them landing
Again on the ground.
I have bent my body in this way
To say something to you that is
Most difficult to articulate.
The cave of the room seems tangible
Enough. The logs break open as they
Did in the early nights when Proust
Awoke to find us in his dream
Able to recall his own life for him
As if played upon cellos.
I am familiar with the most ancient
Of languages. I am able to make fire
Of their words, and long ago I imagined
Men who devoured shadows in fantastic
Woods peopled by painters of landscapes
We are unable to imagine in these times.
I hand you oars for a boat.
I give you the end of a story.
I look upon a rose with you.
I recall the places we stayed together.
I wrap you in the limbs of a great tree.
I am approaching dawn once again.
I remember your name and whisper it
To myself. I am able to see over vast distances.
I can see you traveling with your quiet flocks.
I become the morning for you.
There are skeletons in the mountains.
I GOT TALKING TO THE ANGEL DURING THE SNOWSTORM
AND AS HE HAD A LOT OF TIME AND I WAS FREEZING
TO DEATH, I ASKED HIM TO TELL ME AN ANGEL STORY:
The idea might have been alright
But the mountains were everywhere
And there was no telling
If the trails would be clear
Or the passes open this late in the year.
I lifted her hands and placed
Her palms against my eyes.
Her breathing slowed. The singing started.
There were signs in the air.
I could see the smaller animals
Begin to gather at the edge
Of the forest. They were watching.
“How do you do that?" she said,
“See without using your eyes.”
“You don’t have to think
About anything now.
It is a gift I have been given.”
It was raining over the Dharma
Pass. In the distance the little
Horses looked like gray ghosts.
It was hard to tell if they had riders
Or only large packs on their backs.
“We have to leave soon. We have
A very long way to go.”
“Will there be angels?” she said.
I held my palms tighter
Against her eyes.
“There are always angels,” I answered.
She was asleep before I had
The vehicle ready. She was dreaming
About a river. She was trying to cross
It but kept slipping and getting all wet.
The clouds parted for a moment
And the way became easier under foot.
“There are always angels," I repeated.
"We know which mountains
We are crossing.” She smiled
In her sleep.
I could still hear the singing,
“THERE WAS A LITTLE INN IN THE VALLEY”
Behind closed doors you came came
To me and I thought you were
A flame, although I could see
Your face so clearly. I could
See the birds landing on the lakes
Of your eyes and the way that angels
Gathered at the edges of your mouth
Just waiting for you to say something,
Anything. I remember telling you
I loved you and I could see
A perfect landscape; for such
Long moments I thought we might
Live there. But no. It was just
A moment and you asked me to go
Get some ice and I felt I were on
Some kind of a crusade I might
Never return from.
When I did get back
You were sleeping so soundly
I could see doors opening and closing
As you moved through the halls
Of your dreams. Such pleasant
Songs you sang. All about rain.
THE CASTLE TINKLES IN THE WIND
AS IF MADE OF GLASS
This is the true hour,
The opening of the hand to reveal
All are still here building our litanies.
I suppose we will all die.
Everyone seems to have done it.
We all, finally, choose to forget this place.
In the alley someone is screaming,
Trying to wake the stars,
Great wires dangling down
Snarling traffic as if it didn’t matter.
An entire collection of echoes
Heads off towards the endless plains.
Someone is trying to memorize
The patterns of the streets,
Hoping there is a song somewhere
In their curves and intersections.
Soon we will know who we are.
I read it in a book, my dear,
It must be true, just like a world
Without violence, the dove landing
On our shoulders, its feet sticky
With blood. We do not realize it can’t see,
Still, we welcome the moment.
We rinse out our mouths, pick up our masks,
Create our myths, walk out into the garden.
We never see where the bullet
Comes from. There will be a sting,
Then a deep warmth as if one were praying.
The sky overflows with stars.
There are tears in our eyes.
We begin to feel as if we were
Walking in deep snow.
Everything becomes a murmur.
We begin to believe even the water
Will keep us from drowning.
COWS SLEEPING WHILE THE SEARCH CONTINUES
The light is dismal here.
Even the air walks away with an attitude
Making it hard to breathe.
I can hold myself above water
For a few moments more.
I can see the search parties
With their grim dogs.
Their lights are playing
Tag along the river banks.
I can see how lovely the meadows
Really are. There are cows sleeping
Under the trees. They are not going
To let anything bother them this night.
I throw my house into this.
I can hear it crying.
I gave my word to be there.
This mountain is so full of light.
The rain begins again.
It always seems to behave
At this spot to describe whatever
The hell this poetry is doing.
We step out of the door.
Our competition changes from death
I will help you make snowballs.
We will wait for the singing to begin.
I dream in green.
I walk to the sea.
I am in Galilee.
I break on the shore.
I was a wave. I am no more.
I dream in green
Green, green, the sea.
I stand inside the fire.
I am the one they call the liar.
I dream in green.
The fire burns in green.
I touch the starry mansions.
Green, green, I dream in green.
I gather silence like green flowers.
All the flowers green.
I hold the songs, the green, green songs.
I hold them to my bosom.
The glow bright green inside my shirt
I dream in green like seas are green.
I walk in green. The green man dreams.
Caught dreaming. Caught myself in green.
And friends of Mimi and ex-Sacramento Mayor Burnett Miller will recognize the Miller home profiled in the Sacramento Bee's Home & Garden section today. For many years, the Millers have hosted the Sac. Poetry Center fundraiser each December, and they have been long-time supporters of Sacramento poetry.