They don’t look like stars at all,
But rather tissues pulled from a box
By cats and scattered ‘round the sky
Like a madman might, hunks and spreads
Of light, sometimes in clumps,
Other times in disordered piles
Pushed against the corners of the sky.
They were tall in the evening,
Clothed like songs into the mumble
The garden presented itself with
As if it were a country,
A lone and terrifying country
That has a name like a person,
Not a garden at all.
Full of millions of eyes that
Could see, but had no idea
What to look at. No direction home.
A peculiar blindness.
The roses are gray here.
They have voices from Greece
And Rome. The shadows, heavy,
Hung from the eves of the roofs.
Long-limbed and having no
Beginning and no end, lifted
By the breeze, as one feels
Dreams upon the skin. The eyes
Unable to open but seeing
All too clearly.
I look for horses in this twilight,
Know the names of their riders.
COFFEE WITH THE BUDDHA
The right hand of the Buddha
Was curled upward in a gesture
The room we were in was enormous.
I could see the sun was about to rise
As I sat at his feet. I thought I could
Hear him breathe but I could easily
Have been mistaken. It is often hard
To realize time when one is this empty.
At some point I was given rain and then
Awhile later there was a sweep of wind
That left me disoriented. There were either
Birds or stars, or perhaps we were talking
To each other. I was offered a drink of water.
I was offered the earth. I thought it was a promise.
I started to think this was all too complicated.
“Don’t do that any longer,” said the Buddha.
Are things still dying? I wondered.
“That sound is a cello,” said the Buddha.
“Let’s go get a cup of coffee.”
I put my hat on and stood up.
“Nice hat,” said the Buddha.
THE TOY TRAIN
She said it was a toy train.
It was made of spider webs.
It disappeared through a closed door,
Not like any train I had ever seen before.
My dog came through the mirror
Without a sound, without a sidelong glance.
Derelict, abandoned, a room without a floor.
The train could move inside a dream façade.
Littered with old memories, their meaning gone
Like rain that through a broken window pane might pour.
And I dwelt there through a thousand nights,
Caught by the grey of shadows, a prisoner
Of the moon, a captive of the spirits that
Dwell inside my bones, a distant ringing
Of a bell across the quickening season.
Masked, unmasked, another mask and then no more.
BREAKING THE TRANCE
Born white, a cloud
And without vestments,
Able to kiss the raven.
All is bowing and the sunrise
Tightening the strings to invent
Perfect tones, the kind
The Pied Piper used
To deliver children
To the mountain’s door.
The skin falls away
From the bones.
Burnt by the passions
Day after day. Every line
Bears witness to what?
Fragments of light? Light striking towers.
Nothing came before the word.
More and more the days
Are erected beyond memory,
Beyond silence, beyond
Proportions. They uncouple from hope
As fire does from the word.
We have always been in heaven,
High above the landscape,
Staring through the windows
In wonder before our own breath.
Have you run out of things to say?
It is not necessary to constantly speak.
The cat sits at the top of the arc of the door.
The night moves at the edge of her body.
It is never necessary to go out or come in.
I can hear the little tune you sing without words.
At 7:00 PM it sounds melancholy. You are climbing
We will walk up to the rooftop when you get here.
I will bring sandwiches. We can watch the lights
Come on across the city. The Winter has its charms.
The silences, too, are their own music.
By morning we will be in Tokyo.
Should that concern? I wondered.
We will be rich by then.
I couldn’t see a thing in the darkness.
There was a steady pulse of engines
Coming from far away, resonating in my chest.
I have forgotten if we are arriving or leaving.
“We are traveling.”
I had a box I used to keep things like this in.
Now, they are mostly thoughts and will be
Over soon. Like being a young girl or a young boy.
Can’t we just wait? What will change that much?
Will we miss something?
Maybe next time we can be swimming
Toward one another. Or you can tuck
The blanket up under my chin.
I have a lot more secrets
Where these came from.
I will continue to try to hold
Goodnight my friend.
Listen for the farthest sound.
THE GREAT GOD PAN
I am holding the god Pan to his promise.
We shall dance on the streets tonight
In the rain.
This will undo the question mark after
All these centuries. I will even make
A small fire that will change what we know
Concerning sunlight. These words
Will probably be the only mention
You will find concerning this event.
In the meantime, I would ask that you
Dance with me here, while we are awaiting
Him. What have we got to lose?
—Medusa, with many thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine Saturday brunch!
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