“As we lean over the deep well, we whisper…”
We would be sisters, I name you thus, living
at either ends of the vast country, you more
sophisticated perhaps (though I am depth and
surface, too). We are the same age. I claim
you. We come together in evening shadows
when talk is easy. You do not know you are
here—here with me in lines of talk and drifts
We come to a wishing well. I create this for
the poem. It is deep and full of terrible wishes.
If we choose one, it will come true. Who is
wise enough for this? Not you. Not me.
We watch the dark glitter. Something huge there,
full of time and timelessness. Oh, distant sister,
if we finish this discussion, one of us will die.
I must not tell you this. I suggest a walk back to
the path that leads in both directions. Here we
part and are gone from even this non-memory.
Why weeping. Why not. Have you not felt the sway
of great emotion; have you not felt time slip through
before you were ready; have you not favored regret
over favor? Oh, how you like the contradiction
of the mirror—that glass of lies. Break it, and it
it multiplies. See, I say it twice—to catch up; to run
past myself; to run right through the mirror to the other
side of life—that parallel, where I am in the arms
of my mother. Time is on a wheel, rolling backward.
I go ‘round and ‘round myself, always ending up
back to the moment, which is smooth—oiled with
momentum. Ferris Wheel.
FROM THE CARNIVAL OF DAYS AND NIGHTS
The clown arrives with his black mask
and signature; he will amuse
with his pointed humor,
wait for the laughter—
who knows him?
who asked him here?
propped in chairs—
he rolls on the floor
to make the spotlight follow him,
he offers the flourish of his autograph
to the first one who finds him funny.
The audience cannot laugh or applaud.
Tonight I read fortunes in the dark,
tell truths and non-truths—
anything to save you.
Your hand ignites in my hand, your palm
a map that I travel with my eyes—
say words over.
Someone draws a curtain between us;
now we must lose each other—
try to remember.
Come with me. Read my hand. It holds nothing now.
It is not a book for you to know. But please yourself.
Say what you see. I will listen. Maybe it is true.
I open my palm. You trace your finger, frown and hum.
What to you see there? I won’t ask. You won’t say.
Thus do we keep ourselves from one another.
you at the edge of everything
I in the center
a shining wheel that turns
on my life
and your eye
how I spin
to dizziness and meter
and from the blur
you throw knives at me and
laugh from the praise of your talent
an audience cheers
you raise your arms
to the applause
all your fingers are knives
NOW IN THE FUN HOUSE
(after Paul Klee’s “Death and Fire”)
Now in the fun-
house of the dream,
white ghost of
scream . . . silent grasp
of light . . . side-
show of the mind . . .
and at the receding edge
of sleep, sleep-
child, hands raised
against the looming buga-
boos—which are real,
which are always there . . .
and always will be,
in the dream.
This is how to relieve pain:
For tears, cry and buy
a pretty little jar to keep them in.
If you love,
enjoy it or regret it.
If you tell fortunes,
beware of other fortune-tellers.
the tea bag should burst.