A ROOM THE GODS HAVE ABANDONED
At seventy, recognizing a particular star
As known since adolescence. Seen at
The edge of the horizon. Perhaps
It beckoned or perhaps it was just
A flash of green light right at sunset
Over a flat plane, over water, over
A sudden calm that came to the sands
As we reached them for the evening,
Dropped a sea anchor and sat upon
The deck of the ship as onions
Were being sautéed, and as far as we knew
We were close to nothing
That we had ever seen before.
Osiris sitting at the desk writing;
He will not notice that we have
Entered the room.
We are here for instruction from the angels
Of the sun. They tell us what we already
Know of childhood and leave behind
The litter of fairy tales and the
Brilliance of these dreams
To us, as solid a fluid as mercury.
TRICK OF THE MOON
The moon is working with some other
Material. It is making shrines,
The kind children would notice.
I cannot have a presence
To speak this way, but I will speak
My way into existence. You may
Hold me as your own child
Or build a room in which I may
Suddenly appear as part of your past.
Someone you know from another
Poem who hadn't yet developed
A body, a voice that could call
Out to you out of near darkness.
Ah, but you do know my voice?
And you know I am not a pretender,
But a wandering of your mind
As you enjoy the coming of the twilight.
Give me a moment. I will erase
That emotion, that thought, so that
I may hold you close to me, tell
You stories you may only hear
On the darkest of nights.
VENUS UNBRAIDING HER HAIR
She can catch a soul
As the sea foam curls
Into the wave and licks
The soft curve of the water,
Surrounds anything that might
Be language—a reflection
On the wave tops from a single lamp,
Kept lit to show the ship’s wheel
Where to grip the dream.
That this could in any way matter.
Counting waves that continue to write
Over one another, palimpsest,
With my breathing on each one.
And, of course, you. You touching
My skin. Knowing your fingers
Will find thread in my memory,
Then wave and write, a leg
Or a caress or changing a shirt,
Pulling down a shade, looking out
A late-night window at the few
Lights left on this late in such
A tiny town. A chair scrapes
The floor, moving away from the table.
Wave, looking through the wave.
I no longer can read your name.
Your are the beloved and your eyes
Color the wave upon wave, your walking
The sands once again. I touch
Your back and it is sand.
The wave comes over my hand
And I can see through it but cannot read it.
GRAY INTO WHITE
Here, where I am gray into white
Eros spreads my fingers and wraps
Them around the root as a flaming
Joke, lights a candle
To see if one can still see
That light from the back row
Of the garden and perhaps
Find it interesting enough
To find a way through the
Darkness, through the gates, to the
Door, up the stairs
To where there is a bright
Old man lying naked in
A lovely bed, singing to
Himself transfixed by
The song, the lovely beauty
Of the visitor and the howling
Of the wind through the open doorway
And they went, “Wrong, wrong, wrong.
You know that’s not your song.
We haven’t given voice
That you should sing it.
Your words are strong, strong, strong.
Not just some tiny gong
And we gave you words
Enough to sing it.
Open the door, door, door.
That’s exactly what it’s for.
Start the dance,
And mind your step
And bring it.”
We’ve all been here a thousand times before;
I may not know your name or call your harbor,
But we’re still upon the ship
And we know can sail it.
So off we go to find
The morning’s brightness.
Do you know who your are?
Yes, you do. What is this?
I ask lifting his right arm
As he lies in his bed.
It is Borges.
Tell me what you would have,
Water. Water and a rose.
And nothing else?
He closes his eyes.
Is there no longer Borges?
The room is empty. Anyone
May look out this window now.
I will use this, Borges, I whisper.
He exhales quietly, then not at all.
Wash his body, please.
It is vacant now.
BETWEEN PACIFIC STORMS
It is between Pacific storms.
The sun never uncovered its blade
All day. It was a lone guitar
In A minor. Everything had been
Touched by time or was made of metal.
I am without a name.
Not enough wind to slope
The evening into anything but
Its quiet infinite labyrinth.
I was standing beneath a sky
Populated by memories I could
See but did not recognize.
They were not my memories.
The sky was a backwater of wrack
And echoes with a cadence
Coupled to a particular tide.
The clouds were libraries without
Catalogs. This the way of a day
Single before the looming shadow
Of what will be a great storm.
I will sit in my small apartment and dream.
FOR ROBERT DUNCAN
“I had no sure talent about
What poetry was.”
It was the words that were
Luminous in the dark.
But I knew I was not alone
—Medusa, with many thanks to D.R. Wagner for his fine poems and pix today!