Why were the children in this dream?
There is a wilderness to the domestic silence.
The last thing we drew was a dragon with no eyes.
Poor dragon. It flew into a mirror and died.
Your ship finally came in. You were still poor.
Little boys like to color boats dark blue
in generic coloring books.
Our fingers were heavy with red crayon. Yours
were the same as mine—little red finger points.
Next time, let’s trade, I said.
But your crayon-blue eyes were refusing.
Little girls are very particular about which colors
they want to use.
The dragon stared toward us in the mirror.
Let us love dragons forever, you said.
We drew pity for a flag.
We painted it bright red. Ships sink every day.
Little toy sailboats
wobble safely in gentle ponds and streams.
Some days the dragon dreams back to our ruined page.
We draw it again, this time with eyes.
AS IF I AM THE IMAGE OF REGRET
the rush of wings
through a fast mirror
made of air;
as if I am the waiting glass
for the escape of
a word of long ago,
finding me here for its use,
and I am blessed—
as if I am the certainty
of wisdom . . .
to let all this happen,
even as I hold my breath
through the forgetfulness of others.
THE BREATH OF SLEEP
The breath of sleep is upon her and the shadow
in the bedroom hides in the curtain. The mirror
stares deeply into all the angles of the room
that breathes with her sleeping.
The ceiling fan whirrs softly. It is summer
and the small noise the fan makes
barely disturbs all the complex, curious listenings.
Inside her sleep, the dream stalks her.
The mirror contains it all—like a far memory—
all the shiftings and edgings and motions
of the night. The shadow in the curtain
ripples and wishes it were real.
Inside the grip of the dream, she is struggling.
The sheet pulls from her and tangles to the floor.
She cries out and half-awakens.
The shadow in the curtain goes motionless.
The fan shudders in its turning. The mirror
closes its eye lest she see what is truly there.
If she were to waken now, she would become
another self—would have to choose.
But she does not waken; and the shadow
relaxes, and the mirror resumes
its watching, and the fan whirrs
and stirs the slow night in its humidity.
WHAT IS TRANSPIRED
(After "Nude with Dove", 1928, by Tamara de Lampicka)
Lady with a dove—
each by each, startled,
or else sharing
the simple myth
She raises a hand
against a wing.
The dove flutters still
at her shoulder.
whispers her thoughts.
The dove’s coo is soft—
and the woman relents—
alters her heart which was closed.
BREATHING UNDER WATER
Going under water she breathes now—takes on the el-
ement of resistance to what is not possible—thus she is
able to stay under for long periods of watching and
listening—the lightness and heaviness of her body—a
strange contradiction—a matter of choice now, the look
of the sunlight at the surface even more dazzling and
beautiful—passing her hands under it for an even more
spectacular pattern of light-glitters. She begins to feel
separate from all the others who have not missed her,
their bodies dangling without heads or moving in a
slow horizontal skim above her. For awhile she follows
beneath them—mocking their directions. Tiring of this,
she begins to marvel at her new perspective : she is in a
leisurely ballet of new movement; she is beginning to
feel like a fish; with the merest of movements, she
quickens and changes directions at whim. Soon she is in
an unfamiliar current. Swifter. Darker. She has no
desire to leave this altered environment. She fits herself
to the motion and wonders whether she will ever return
to the glaring surface—that heavy world—receding so
soundlessly above her.
NOW THAT THE CAT
Now that the cat
has come to
live with us
in our tame house,
from my red rug
all such things
and the red
from the catnip
THE OLD DARK
From the breath of cities comes the old dark
and its favorite night bird that
chittters once outside my window
and is gone—gone to what other darknesses
there are between it and its swift reflection,
that myth of substance—and I feel the night
close over where the night bird was
and erase the memory of itself—and now
the porch light shifts back into place,
and I turn back from that sound that I imagined.
THE MYTH YOU TRY TO LIVE UP TO
Hope wears a blindfold so you can grope
toward the brightness of your desire.
It is the only way to earn what you want.
It is its own guarded secret.
It will tell you, and tell you to follow—
follow. And you will follow
and not stumble,
though there are pitfalls everywhere.
Your heart is pure and your
want is sacred.
You will never fail yourself,
and someday hope may reward you.
FOR BROKEN THINGS
Something as joyful as
a sheer-winged dragonfly,
a butterfly, a moth—
a humming bird in flight . . .
all these can still the heart.
All these can still the heart
which grieves the smallest loss:
the damage that befalls,
the happenstance of death—
all life too swift for love.