They cough shrouds of air and I watch as their mist falls and stirs across them, their long faces in a whirled sky. I wonder at the horses’ rough silence, these implacable creatures that see but say nothing, their muscled bodies unalarmed, uncurious. They accept simply because they seem to know they are born into a grace and immensity which they do not attempt to diminish, or hide from…
And because, love, no one speaks like this -
A dog who chases voices in wires until they are birds -
Look at me, and tell me a dog doesn’t hope.
See me the way you did that day the
Storm appeared out of hiding and
We were caught under the taste of its hunger,
The way one smells the cool air of hail christening
The hull of the world, and the sky crumbling under foot,
Passing away before one another’s eyes.
Listen, maybe this time the world begins again.
Trash cans slump in the
dugup ground. Blue boxes
dust with snow drifting across.
A floor’s rumour of horse-and-buggy
And, the dog rising, head down,
walking to see.
There are reasons not
to smile, to look elsewhere.
Mennonite horses pass, seeing
straight ahead, not the grey coming loose
from the ice-lined windows.
Wrecked shells on a plate, the
I bail out water in the boat of my spirit
to forget. The pictures do not account
for what was. They are colours erased to
smudges. No mention of afternoon
under high ceilings and that clink of silverware.
The solitary sun bleaches and time
is old furniture under clean sheets.
Your leaving is my returning. For that
there are two boats, one from
which I am bailing water and the boat
underneath which receives it.
They imitate body inside body.
They float, nearly weightless.
Water is that room high and airless. In it,
you swim in windows of perspective.
Your fingers are white as table salt,
symetrical as silverware used to splatter
suns on long walls.
You sit across from me admitting your bright
dresses on the line are dry. My glass spills
and grows them like colourful flowers that
will turn away from me, upward, and then
underneath, into me. You will swim in me
as long as I breathe you in.
Today, I remembered a love poem with names of creeks
running perfectly to a river.
It is clear and cold as any and finishes with certainty.
It outlasts the pain of hope which grows inside unbearable words.
It opens and flows and holds for awhile the green tongues
of root and willow, and dead life from upstream, reliving itself.
It seems we have no trouble believing in the path it has cut.
Yet we lose faith in the shape of our metamorphosis.
We swim in the white swirls of rocks, an open flute that
echoes the artifacts of old joys, and we feel cold.
Let us instead be cold in the way that makes the sun brighter,
and in the manner, you tell me, that I come to mind.
A thing gone is not always lost, and we may find it elsewhere
in order to love. We sing ruined worlds to rouse it,
or call for the stray dogs of old lives we left behind,
but we cannot. Today has no precedent.
This morning, a ghost walked past the frozen river,
into the sun through our window, as if slipping through ice.
Winter brings them in from the cold, like mice
and other beasts and into our dreams’ misty rooms.
Because we are as much ghosts to them as they are to us,
they rouse in recognition and undiminished joy above white sheets
under which our two figures make love. There is no temptation —
the river is a snake I choose. I choose the sins that take me
to love and the animal fruit of your mouth, and your tongue,
like another snake, that wrestles me down into you.
The river is glass up to my ankles and I will fight you for this,
and not let you vanish as you leave behind this fallen world we made.
A fish that springs from netted air can breathe astonishment
under the sun of that heart.