THE ROBES OF THE SPRING
When I open my hands
I have neither morning
Nor evening in either
I will gather squash blossoms
In the early morning and dip
Them in an egg batter. Fry them.
It is still three weeks until Spring
And I am adorning myself
With its heat and shimmer
And the taste of oranges,
The thrushes in the morning,
Already too bright.
It seems the river breezes
Have started to display
Robes not seen since November.
The fields are full of magic and green
But we must call it drought.
At least let us sing a bright rain song.
THE LEADER OF THE PATROL SPEAKS
I moved to Marseilles
For awhile. I had tired
Myself too much in the jungle
And knew I could survive here
For a season without the fevers
Returning with the vengeance
That had plagued me in the tropics.
For awhile I returned to my old work.
I dealt in dreams and taught
For awhile the trade of winds,
Dealing with ships mostly of a medium
Tonnage that needed to move
Quickly and generally at night.
On clear evenings I would
Set up my small collection
Of charms and potions
In a quiet, clean hotel
And meet the travelers
Who found it necessary
To occupy particular habitats
Within the protection of dream,
Where they could communicate
With that population
Who plied these routes but were
Leaving the body to choose a new
One or a recently unoccupied one
For short periods of time.
I was somewhat of an expert
When it came to knowing
The traffic in such regions.
I could make good money quickly
And be gone before any situation
Looked even the slightest bit
Out of normal.
As a child in Zurich
And later on in Algiers, I had found
Myself with an ability to see
All the transitions of the breath
In most individuals
And quickly realized what this
Could mean to those who only
Required a body for a limited
Period of time to accomplish
A particular task and know dreaming.
I also became known as one who
Had no need or desire to ask
Why a client might need the dreaming
Or to know a particular
Language a wind might identify
Itself by to create fair or foul
My track was on old ways
And, except for bouts of terrible
Fever when I stayed too long
In the tropics, I could
Accomplish much fairly quickly
And always find easy passage
To return to my friends
In the far islands
Who always seemed to be at war
With one set of phantoms or another
Or with terrible armies anxious
To force their way past the gates
And commit their atrocities,
Summoning the darkest of shadows
And providing a realm for evils
I will not mention here.
Here the transmission ended
With a promise to talk further
When the weather was right again
And the trade in dreams and bodies
Not as swift as it currently manifested.
“The dead are being occupied temporarily
At an amazing rate,” being the last thing he said.
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 tooth, carving it slightly. His thoughts began to flash through his mind. “This is stupid,” he thought. “My thoughts are like strobe lights. Everything is stupid." The card had 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 alarm in the parlor. He got up and repeated his routine again. “This could go on 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. He never mentioned the letter. 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 to tell.
He spent the whole afternoon
Visiting graves. He would poke
At them with his staff and mumble.
There were clouds of snow leaning
Over the fences and making the day
Grow much later than it actually was.
Near the keeper's work house
A couple of small lights were lit.
They could be candles. It was
Hard to tell, but he decided
They were candles. Then he wanted
More; a song or a bird would be nice.
He read the names out loud so the
Dead could hear their names spoken
Again. He removed his hat and let
The breeze do what it wanted
To his hair. He waved his hand,
Saying goodbye. They probably
Couldn’t even hear him anymore.
We will wait for the moon tonight.
It is not only the moon. It is full
And we can see it through the rain.
It is not like you are a child.
I will put the moon in my mouth
And we can stay in bed. I will
Pass it into your mouth when we kiss.
I will tell you a story of a warrior I knew.
He used a rabbit skin to make a beard.
We lost him in the famous snows
That winter. When we found his body
In the Spring, he was in full armor
And looked more fearful than a trap
Set to catch a tiger that terrible Winter.
I am going to continue North.
Meet me under the trees
And you can use my heart
As a pillow all the while I am gone.
Sometimes I can’t tell
If it is her speaking
Or if it is some bird
Call I should recognize
But am unable to recall.
Usually I answer anyway.
Just to be sure.