The stars like drops of blood. A swarm of bees
humming like machinery. The way the dream
becomes the day. A constant nostalgia
for the future. Still tied to the ground like a kite.
The way dust is caught up in a whirlwind
we are caught, spun, and then dropped
dizzy, miles apart, onto the desert of the bed.
What is it that the waves desire, reaching,
reaching for the shore? Coriolis, the color
of an extinct bird’s egg. Swans
with clipped wings bullying ducks
on an artificial pond. Sleep is just talk,
endless talk in classrooms and cafes,
using words made out of wood.
As a child pushing one magnet with another.
Opposites attract and like repels. Can it be
we love best what we don’t know, what
refuses us access, our anti-selves, held
in the mirror, in memory, in the eyes
of the woman kissing me, diving
through my own reflection into the pond?
The winged seed of the maple tree falls at my feet.
Wind-broken branches still green, growing.
Lilacs stolen from the cemetery bloom in a jar.
Oh Mama, wait for me, I’m coming, please
don’t leave me in my crib again.
An insect bite. I watch the poison spread down
my arm, tracing the vein to the heart.
A dog licking its own blood.
The ravens fly away
when the buzzards land.
I suffer once again
the continual vigilance of myself.
And when we touch
a sound like steel on steel.
Just everyday sadness.
Hot water on the woodstove.
Convalescent broom propped in the corner.
Just dust, gathering on a photograph.
Not a word worthy of the name.
Just notes toward a philosophy of being
which argues against the possibility of its own existence.
Dawn an abrasion. I’m up, leaning
into the steady pressure of the wind.
Remember the articles of faith, of clothing
left where they fell on that hot sand,
how it formed to the shape of your shoulders
pressed down? How rising, turning back, you said,
“Look, we’ve left something of ourselves behind?”
(kz 1988) (previously appeared in Brooklyn Review)