A drive to another city.
Getting lost in a forest.
in the grass.
And later when I photographed you at the water,
when on the rocks the wind came for your blouse,
I pictured the idea of a soul hewed
in the pliocene bodies of cormorants alight
on the water image of those distant rocks —
too many shadows to know for certain
whether they were returning, or instead
vanishing into the skin of our memory, like a
pictograph sinking into the face of a stone, or
the fading bruises on your breasts my mouth left.
You, naked, barely
on the edge of the bed, blinking, white
as a candle, alight on a plate, and breasts,
together, cheerful as dolphins.
The way we played, you,
legs to opened ground
and me, a compass with only one
direction — but wrestling, braiding fingers,
me, pushing you down,
you, pushing back to come back
laughing, allowing us to
forget all that.
I wonder how others feel love.
Her, under that streetlamp,
fallen snow in black hair, like an infinitesimal
constellation of wounds, then tears, like bright new worlds?
And, me, unmoving,
the sidewalk scouring her into spirit,
her bootprints quitting the path?
Do others wonder, when the day scissors flesh
into shadows, that hers swims too darkly to be unskinned,
or is a scrap of soul blind as an eclipse.
Like me, do they wear, threadbare
with regret, the coat of that night sewn
by moths of its snowy incandescence?
When I try to replace you with
you say to me,
you could try being
that small fox I saw this morning,
hurtling from the woods.
Then, when I notice,
through the gravel smoke,
that you’ve spotted me again,
I’d ricochet back
into the forest
of your mind.
There are some things I cannot hope
to touch; these bridges, for instance,
of rain clouds between the other earths,
this river, too, brownly swelling,
like a new root burrowing in the soft air
of a newly wet sun. Meanwhile,
the prayer I make with my fingers
in the damp ends of your hair
on this humid day is not
a poem about love. It could be, though,
sitting next to you, waiting
for it to come any minute,
to touch down,
take hold for the time we’re here,
like this, yes, and like that, the same way rain
from those worlds do.
Near the end,
I stepped out into the yard
and recorded the birds for you.
They always see mornings before we do.
This evening, I turned on the recording
on my phone, and felt their vibrations
in my palm, as if they were feeding there.
I listened to the difference in the clarity
they coloured the night with,
and the kernels of your darkness
that ravens, I think, pluck for their eyes.
I never sent you this
or played it back to you.
Let there be darkness, my love.
Blackbird, sleep with me.
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.
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