It’s October and I have not
used a word in two weeks.
I don’t count the tiny clouds of Bashō.
So, I’m beginning to pick up
a few lines of silence,
sitting on the old sofa,
listening to the sound of orange
in the rain, the sidewalk
composing pretty, rotten leaves
on a bright yellow page, flooding
with chamber music from
the sewer drains.
Perhaps if I start by telling you,
your face is another moon, a rock, bright,
defying all, gravity, most of all,
carving paths of a billion worlds
across the outskirts of this lake,
you would see how far darkness travels
to find light. Perhaps if I drew your hands on my back,
you would understand how birds,
touching down, make stillness out of tumult.
And, have you heard that words are stones,
chipped away from fault lines we cannot read,
but which whisper, write me? Can you understand
that when you lean into my arms
all that you are is a root, curled and naked,
climbing from the boulder split,
which cannot drink the rain it feels,
or see, in spite of sun that pours on it,
cannot understand, only witness, the scent of its silence,
the magnitude of its flower?
This morning I heard from you.
I watched the window, wind possess
the bodies of trees,
comb the yellow hair of stripped cornfields.
I opened every window to let it come
and steal what it could,
rub out the things inside.
It’s evening now, and the cold the day’s left
sleeps in the chair beside me.
It breathes quietly as I write.
We never see ghosts, we only feel them.
You say, abandon,
like the word to
a foreign place.
But, because we call this,
this wilderness, this garden
of our loneliness,
let us both settle for
the lives of smaller gods
who befriend the places
which keep themselves lost.
Mid-October, now I wear my sweater,
blue as the morning, that dreamt-of one
before she knew me. She does not explain this,
only jokes about the “gossiping trees.”
She knows there is no word for beauty
or, yesterday, the armful of yellow leaves
that burst all at once on the road
as she laughed and laughed.
I always felt it was in the looking,
though waiting seems better now
that time has narrowed, like the trail
I’ve been following that goes through
the old growth pine of Shish-Kong Lake.
I’ve been here a thousand times,
but the path keeps changing.
The lake below spins faster than ever.
The trees seem to root into blue above,
as if the water could be desperate for sun.
And the birds climb their branches,
leaping southward, though more and more
I notice the ones that stay
as though, for some reason,
the best way to save their lives
is by not returning.
I think of the fog in the lowlands this morning,
the low, long, gradual barges
of thought, how that place you see imperfectly,
beautiful, you say, or must be,
becomes the grey
you let slip, its hold you let go of.
It’s strange thinking
but, I understand
you, always imagining what I was,
your hand sweeping your hair
away from your eyes
the yellow cornfields left trembling.
I see myself writing you in time,
to tell you everything
that’s happened without you,
that life went on, as they say,
but without the light.
Been some time, but I just saw you
this morning on Spadina Ave.
Not sure what I was doing there,
let’s say it wasn’t a coincidence,
since you were there, too.
Btw, talking about bullshit,
a friend and me were guilty of it,
remarking how a touch
can guide a man back
to the surface of his skin,
as softly as that city of yours
takes flight from
the grey shadows of its towers
over Lake Ontario.
I wanted to tell you this (‘cause,
mostly, I know how you like a man
who makes you laugh), but I woke up,
and its 2:59 a.m. and, damn’t,
you’re too far to feel my way back
through that darkness again.
From the window, the dogs are barking,
at nothing, really, not a woman crossing the road,
or an animal, a fox, say, that comes in from the fields
by the highway, that sometimes sleeps in the shed
(the mutts always smell it),
with the machinery.
I look a little too long, there’s less and less.
Except for the overgrowth sharpening into
spools of wire and foothold traps,
the cornstalks gutted on the plains,
the cellphone tower possessed by voices,
and the street lamps where each night
crowns of light are crucified, I regard only
their instructions for departures.
So, if I could bark with them, that is what
I would start to see, what I don’t,
runways where things go where they go.
And, I would hope, too,
I’d find a way to chase away the fox
that sneaks back nearly every night,
that’s there, camouflaged by
the invisibility of things that will not expect
to be found.