“a static line that danced now
and then like a drunken cemetery.”
The dream was running on tiny silver rails
That looked like railroad track
But were much closer together,
As dreams don’t need a very wide track.
Of course it curved away, out of sight
Long before it came to the horizon.
No one would notice it but me anyway
And I’m only telling you this so you
Can get to the part where the clouds
Begin to bring in all their luggage,
Plop it down near the mountain
That is on fire and then go out for more.
They aren’t doing much of anything.
At first they look like smoke
From the fire and the next minute
Like they are going to pour rain
Like nobody’s business.
You probably noticed there aren’t
Any people in here, except me.
That is because the dream was about
A beautiful silver bell and I haven’t
Got to that part yet.
The wind picked up and got so
Strong it lifted the tracks off the ground.
I was running as fast as I could
To grab at the tracks and pull
Them back down to the ground
So the dream wouldn’t get interrupted.
Just as I made the top of the curve
I saw it hanging in the air like
A harrier falcon, except it wasn’t
A bird at all or anything like it.
It shone beyond my entire imagination.
Just hanging below all those clouds
And just above the tracks,
The most beautiful silver bell
You have ever seen.
And now this is the house of the night.
And now it is my house,
For it moves in my blood.
I know the stories of wonder.
I know the things belonging to the forest.
I have no mind but that of night.
The stars, the stuff of the moon,
The things where reason has no room.
I too move upon that wind
That bends the candle flame
Close to the wick.
What is madness then but
A skitter of leaves
Across a rain-swept street
And that faraway calling.
Calling that cannot be answered.
For I too dwell in the house of night
And these are the stories of wonder,
The unuttered breath
We drop into the clouds
And from the clouds
To what we hope
To call earth.
They had already left the rooms
By the time we arrived.
All of the birds were dead
Except the ones so high up
In the towers they were impossible
To see. Ramon said he could hear them.
The glow in the place was like a pulsing
Fire, ruddy and swept with a smoke
That smelled of incense and blood.
Furniture was smoldering in many
Of the rooms.
Names and symbols covered the walls.
Most were in a language we had not seen
Before. The writing looked embossed.
Occasionally video images would appear
In different parts of the walls.
There was also a row of small paintings.
They were framed in gold and had
A precious look about them.
There were people doing things
In the paintings but none of us
Could determine what is was
They were doing. It seemed to involve
A game played with children
But the children looked to be telling
The larger persons some kind of secrets.
The people in the paintings were doing
Things we had never seen people do.
One of the soldiers wanted to tear them
Down from the walls, saying they were
Not right. No one could understand this.
The only thing that was obvious
Was that no one here was alive
And that no one would be coming back.
“We have to leave this place very quietly,”
Said Ramon. “The things that have happened
Here may never be spoken of again.
I want you to forget that we were here.”
We moved as many things in the rooms
As we could to their centers.
Three or four of the others began
To break the video screens with their tools.
They worked so quietly all we noticed
Was the growing darkness.
This is the last you will hear of this place.
I cannot tell you anything more, just like
Some governments do. They know many
Things but we are not allowed to know them.
"We are soldiers,” said Ramon.
“This is none of our business.”
This is a road.
It was once a field.
We were not allowed
To see the change.
Time was much too short,
Had other things to do.
Battles took place here,
Their outcomes were
Precipitous at best.
Nothing could come of them.
This is a field.
It was once a road.
There are many ways
To see how these things
Happened. We will not
Know what they were.
I am telling you this
So that you can see this place.
We are the body.
This is the song.
Here, I will walk with you.
The shadows are loose again. The sun
Pressed against the window, just above
The trees, has insisted it is morning.
The coffee too, talks in a wake of bubbles
As it tumbles into the pot.
There is a comfort there in coffee and toast,
A room for memories that sprung from dreams.
Now they cluster around the east-facing windows,
The morning sun pouring over them, too bright
For eyes this old, but welcome nevertheless.
He will take his cup, find a chair and listen
To the wrens and tits, the yellow warbler
And recall talking to the crows as they made
Their way across the morning skies toward
Whatever it is they do during the day, wishing
Them well and that he might join them if only
To see from their great heights the arc
Of his life, the many mornings the many nights,
Some as dark as this aromatic cup of coffee
Held with both hands, blinking into the light.
“Once the horse is roped,
it is quite necessary to know
what to do with him.”
—Ellswoth Jaeger, Wildwood Wisdom
If there is no snubbing post,
Face the horse, plant your feet
Wide apart and lean backward
On the taunt rope. Dig the heels
Of your boots in, for you will plow
Furrows in the dust. The horse
Doesn’t like you facing him.
He thinks you mean him mischief.
As we so often do when leaving
A room or a unwelcome conversation,
Turn around and walk away from him,
Holding the lead rope and he will follow