Not afraid of anything,
Holes in the world, countries
Whose names are unpronounceable,
The scores of insects in the apartment
That flee when the lights come on
Along the edges of the room.
Not afraid of the rain that never stops,
The old man in 304 with his stamp
Collection and the way he talks to
His bottle of wine, sipping, sipping.
That gun that presses so close
Upon the flesh.
A better design will fix that
As we prepare for the dark words,
The claws tightening, the stench
Of whatever that is that is burning
On the street corners.
Oh this is only a bad debt
Opened up like a gutted teddy bear
Or a fish waiting to be dinner.
There are a lot of places we could go
Where none of this has happened.
The birds say so, the birds and the pale
Faces surprised at a sunflower.
We’re safe as stars here, darling,
Safe as safe, the blue skies, the blue
Water. Go ahead, fall asleep,
Forgive the tarnish and the cold.
All is forgiven. The yellow queens
Walk the land handing out Spring,
Watching, guarding, praising,
Coming in like love, away from silence.
Nobody will know what has been said,
What the hell, we live here, not
Afraid. Compassion is our signature.
Grace is our swan and the river,
Enchanted by our wondrous songs.
My breath started before I had
Body enough to call it my own.
It was a yearning that turned
On the point of a dagger.
When my body found me
I would be in California beneath the oaks
Along the river. There would already be
Fire in what would be my blood, and my eyes
Would have a kind of grace that took everything
To be deep as love and founded on the deepest
Notes cocooned by what would be my heart.
I had no need of feet for I was swift as wind.
I knelt only to love and the colors of happiness
That pulled the soul around me before I could
Speak, reach out and touch the edges of happiness.
I was the ground. All things came from my body.
I was rain, lightning, thunder, and the voice
Snow uses to speak to the seeds beneath its
Great cape. I was long finished with whatever
My body had been before. All that was left
Were these words of memory before they too
Would flee and my skin grow to move me toward
This creature I am become. I embrace you now.
FROM A NIGHTMARE
I noticed a dampness in the grasses
And footprints embroidered in the mud,
As if tears could
Be pulled by a needle
Driven by the wind.
Somehow I must have carved
A dream from it, for in my sleep,
During a nightmare,
A stranger in tatters
Approached me to ask
If I has seen them, knew where
‘They’ had gone.
I stopped. Cars whizzing
Past on littered streets.
“Whom?” I asked.
“The ones with the ointments,
Or have you forgotten already?”
I began to weep.
“Do not confine yourself
Follow me to my rooms
Near this place.”
“I cannot,” I replied.
“I am committed to simple
Things. Empty jars and mud.”
“You lie!” she said, and ran
Have you seen the night?
It is little more than a cry
Against the beauty of the garden.
It will hand you the moon.
It will hand you the evening star.
The stars are a bridge.
She dresses in red for you.
She wears a blue cape for you.
She speaks of dark with a silk tongue.
I have a river for you, your own river.
I have a harmony of palm trees.
I have moonlight for your skin.
The night is supple. It is a tree.
Deer pass before us, lovely shadows.
Wherever it touches you becomes music.
Do you recall the celebrations?
Songs are given to birds this night.
Come with me. Your body a palace.
Strange eyes. Silent voices
That once were choruses.
The great hawk settles its wings.
Its talons drip a blind blood.
I remain fastened to my bones
For awhile longer. I do not doubt
The power of the waves, the noise
The wind inherits as it moves my hair.
This, then, is a portrait, a tiny, imagined
Glory set in the rudest of findings able
To hold itself together. The genius is
In the cloth that wraps the body.
I wait at the edge of the field
Where the trees overhang the corn.
I can hear the voices of the horses
As they discuss hawks and the shapes
The clouds make of the afternoon.
The trouble was in the imagination.
Eyes too far apart. The city surrounded
By hills that, though vivid, had no reason
To be there. The story remained uninteresting.
Broken choruses the locusts chose to ignore.
Carrying the oceans inside the frame, waiting
For the painting to be completed. No use to anyone.
Left to its own devices. A clear place in the air.
From here we could hear them walking closer,
Then closer. Reminders that the heart was
A mere muscle, the sky still an empty room.
The constant wash of accents believed
To have a special meaning. All this proved
I slowly take the dragons toward the heavens.
The sun watched, somehow charmed to be
In the company of such imaginative creatures.
All the gates had been opened and we rose
High above the gardens to where the singing
Comes from. The clouds were banners
For the day. They captured rainbows,
Showering them wildly at the excellent earth.
This is your feast, dear rumors of the mind.
You have found us here at the precise moment,
All of the voices filled with a universal song.
Angels stopped what they were doing and bowed
To love, as only these words can tell.
When I looked again, all of the things
That are, or could be, were swirling.
I raised my hand and waved goodbye to all.
Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poetry and visuals!
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back