The window open all afternoon.
The yellow tablecloth. The sheer white
Curtains billowing exchanges with the breeze.
Someone has just left the table. The plates
Are still in place as is the dish with the cheese
And the silver knife brighter than it should be.
There were clouds, large puffy fellows, earlier
In the day. They had thinned while Amelie
Was watering the lilac, still in bloom and that red
Vine one could see near the edge of the window.
Silence was essential. He would paint this then.
After violin practice the light would change just enough
For slashes of yellow against the clearest of blues
To be found exactly when he needed them.
The goldfish in their glass bowl, the softness
The voices of the doves brought to the room.
One could grow old this way, color held in the hands,
White daisies and blue cornflowers.
THE HIGH GATE
The dogs have gathered in the park.
They are as obvious as sparks.
There are so many broken hearts
And it’s red red, red dog
Hurry in the night, tarry not
Tarry not, the red dog’s
Eyes are light.
And one is of a sapphire blue
The other one’s of green
His claws are sharp as diamonds are
His breath’s as white as steam.
We caught up with the travelers
Before they reached the high gate.
We were to warn them of what could
And what could not be spoken.
They laughed at our admonishments
And pushed the three of us aside.
Run away then, silly men, they said.
We cannot stop to choose our words,
We won’t walk among the dead.
These words have become a thousand things.
There is no end to their distances.
They are splayed across barren rock.
The azure of their truth quickens and blooms
Knives and the gnashing of teeth.
We find ourselves still more or less
Together, leading our horses by their reins
As we find our way back to the place
From which we had been sent.
Not one of us can look at the distances
Without squinting. Smoke begins to rise
From just inside the high gate.
We are no longer able to hear a thing.
FRAGMENT FOUND IN A GOLD VASE
Clearly everyone was too well-dressed.
They still had skin on their bodies
And the coals behind their eyes
Would flare and fade depending
Upon their activities and needs.
They were waiting with the horses
By the time we arrived on the cargo boat.
We were surprised we had made it
This far. The harbor was full
Of floating bones, most of them human.
"We are happy to see you here,
Your eminence. There has been
So much untruth circulating
These days that we weren’t sure
If you were really coming or not."
I recall the moon had a purple glow
About it and that we could hear
The singing almost as soon as we cleared
The Gorgon’s rocks at the harbor’s mouth.
So much has attached itself
To the core of dreaming
That we are forced to adduce
How insistent the day has become.
We do, indeed, walk within it
Yet remain upon the surface,
Lifting one stone after another.
Each point cursed with another
Perspective, a chance to see the moon.
It’s cool reflection in the stillness
Of a pond. The night air filled with
The cruel high-pitched whir
Of clouds of mosquitos.
Everything has become a verb.
It takes us longer to see the color
The air has become. A chapel
With the essential stained glass
Spilling icons at our feet.
Just inside the walls, that moon
Wraps the lover, the gunman,
The archer, pulling his bow back
To near breaking, letting the arrow fly.
for Brown Miller
The locust on my lips.
I move them to make a word
But the locust makes the sound
And it is a beautiful sound.
No one notices the sound I have
Tried to make but the insect
Moving upon my lips and stridulating.
His legs saying: "This is what
He is saying. Listen to this,
There never was one of us who spoke
This way." And for a moment there is silence.
Then, tens of thousands of locusts
Rise as one voice on the night air
To make the sound the locust
Has made upon my lips.
All the night is filled with
The sound my lips would make.
The night is filled with their sound.
It is more than I could ever have
Conceived of its being. The night
Is full of it wherever one goes.
This is what we want so very much—
A night filled with the sound of the locust
Singing to the world as our mouths move.
He imagined a perfect house
And went to live in it.
But its demons too were perfect.
The crushing weight of a perfect memory
Broke the roof beams and brought
A perfect storm into every room.