I compare the Japanese woman to resilience,
or a delicate reed, fading, in the soup’s spiral steam.
The blowing snow is a thousand poems,
scattered into the river.
We are tired of our words, aren’t we, the constant callings,
the beggary all shameful; and archaic summons?
Between your breasts, and my grief, are
bones you’ve hidden, smoothed in laughter.
To sew together an entire forest, this is needed:
a rabbit’s trail softening new snow.
What now is morning as the sun wades between the bodies
of slaughtered horses inside the thin skein of the world?
Those poems you wrote won’t raise the dead, JH said.
Or, bring a girl’s lips to jubilance.
Once he saw her make a trail to the corner of a page,
leading out of his poem, and wait for him in the shadow of a door.
The body’s older now, she said, now that we’ve fucked.
Now only scars heal scars, adoration reveals their holiness.
She’s river, ancient and silent. Spend time there up to your knees, you’ll not
get used to it, faint mutilations alight on the surface of fierce depths.
Standing by the bay window in her polka dot panties, plucking
a ladybug from the curtain, she waits for touch to come to her.
This is the same portage. I lift the canoe.
I look for treelight scraping into creeks.
Down there words shimmed for love are damning up
the river and the comets are coming up to breathe.
Trees stand steep as migrants in boats.
Landings are farflung blazes, stepping stones.
Dreams of blisters and the waypoints of addicts.
And seventh and eighth and ninth printings.
The nylon tent takes a breather from darkness.
A caterpillar readies its glow.
She couldn’t have said it better, or worse.
I have passed everything all over, and failed.
The world is run-over and, naturally,
my boots choke on the taste of clay.
The goldenrod lay hunched and sour and in ravines where snow
had softened in alder trees and red deer calves teetered.
He shoulders the canoe on windy cedar, red-waved knuckles
half-holding nails on gunnels, salted dents.
She lugs a pack, macintosh and strawberry, liquorice and wine,
and the trees swoon against her, shivering wingmoss, flour.
Speaking of flowers, white and impalpable, and birchpelts,
and my need to tarnish with beauty every crooked stone.
Do seasons retry, does god hibernate, wrestle with bears, knead snow
into muscles smooth and light with his soft and with shattered claws?