Except for the schedule
left open at pages 18 and 19
on the table by the window
beside Wyndham Street where
the train station sits,
I’m the real ghost here. So,
don’t believe anything else
you hear, I’m the ghost sitting
in one of the
two empty chairs
facing each other
(their wooden stares, haha)
looking out the window
at the life, as it were,
as if I were on a train returning
to the place that
took me away.
I keep looking for you here.
I am on the edge of a sharp pine cliff
on Eagle Lake.
I wish I could fly.
The way you taught me that day:
become silence, you said,
it is the same conductor as a wing’s.
Maybe you’re on the next lake,
streaming into this one,
or the creeks have dried,
leaving stepping stones between us,
for weren’t you once the bird
my feet listened to, the green mossy creek?
Now, the clouds chalk the sky,
and I sit by a small fire,
a golden ring inside a silver feathered nest.
Sometimes the wind comes
and flies together with the smoke.
I want love that when you
get too close, you’re blinded,
it stings, and you weep.
“Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint. . . . They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else’s experiences or write somebody else’s poems. . . . Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they are in such haste to get it that they cannot take time to be true to themselves. And when the madness is upon them they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity.”
– Thomas Merton
I am driving north on Highway 6
in the starless dark. And I see
you no longer let me
hold your hand
that forms a knuckle of stone
as you dig your way
To the east, far into the east, are fireworks.
I watch their colours rise,
open and close,
fall back into the other side of the world
that lives in the forest.
Like a bloom climbing
out of the mossy darkness,
vanishing as it turns back
If I could take back
no word for ‘us’ —
only the wild guesswork
of wind, the
tips of our tongues
grasping for the
taste of it, already
tasting the end.
Remember that afternoon
we left together,
the wind busy
its big islands of white clouds
Thomson’s ‘Summer Day,’
to peer away,
drawing me in, then,
to the reflection of
you — green and
of birch, nearly
Light is always years away,
so when it’s here, it’s gone,
like us, when we’re on 60, going 90,
your windowed reflection there
so that I see through your love,
the drink of you spilling from me
and taken by the winter molt of lakes,
like an all-in poker hand, winning you,
whole through the teeth of tamarack,
doing this, not touching,
encrusted in, like your spirit said it would,
in the eye pits of a moose,
taken down by wolves
on the first day we said
we knew it had to be Spring.
There is no need to believe in God
when we feel the soul, which the body gives to us,
and I believe that today nothing’s
as lovely as the woman singing from the kitchen,
the arms of her blouse pulled up to her elbows,
her hair slipped back behind the ears,
her small hands kneading through
the walnut cutting board’s coarse dough,
which forms a sculpture of flour in the white air,
all of which I cannot see,
but know is there
is what I have been given
So pretty, sun in a bog.
There is hope for me.
I read one poet, then think of another,
and then from her, another.
You mention you dislike poems
about poetry. I do, as well, but tell me,
how many poems about poetry
can you show me are about poetry?
Think about every author of the Old Testament,
stone mazes of words, their numinous millennia,
yet forbidden to enunciate or to spell out,
for the faithless eyes,
the full name of their beloved.
Now think about the plague of crickets
outside the window, me turning from
the moth-glow of the computer on the table
to enter the unlit yard so that I may listen as they
arrange their utterances on the strands of reeds,
fanned out along the creases of the river,
so that I might hear your name mentioned
by the darkness.
What were we
to each other?
How you said I was like the rain
pouring myself into you
from a roof in a storm?
But I wonder now,
about that storm
from roof to roof,
after, how the rain
stuck us to its sadness.