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.
I am too close to the fire to write about it,
my fingers are charred with night. Flames light
up the paper, like stars collapsing in my hands.
It’s hopeless, my words are the claws of bears
scraped on trees, or the revolutions of branches
erasing satellites, clutching near galaxies.
Maybe in the morning you will find a way to help me
understand. I promise I will write it all down. In
the morning when you swim up through the glare
with the minnows who become our breathless
constellations we see in light.
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?
Now that you are happy
I would have thought the weather here
in Madawaska would’ve changed.
And I wonder if you wonder now
what a waste living can be,
the clouds only landing
to take us up into rain.
But, you know, I almost believe you; perhaps,
it’s just the weather, undecided,
that says otherwise, its backtracking,
its circling, taking one more look
for the thunder we may or may not
Days scratched-out, driving north, its roads
ground down to rivers
to bare all,
or, at least, tired
of their distance.
Another sun, re-dealt, high
as god searching
the place of
an undying faith
that once it’s tamarack-speared
and disembowels into
the Opeongo, we’ll hold
Likewise, they do not hear from me, or
I them, but how can any of us
the beautiful and gaudy birds
arriving from the heaven of roadkill,
as if the world must revolve
around returning to what’s gone.
never went anywhere.
It stayed with you,
like that poem you lost about your father
that you wrote in ’86
about the bicycle leaning against
the downspout in the rain.
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.
The stick the length of me,
lifted by the beach,
by gnaw of weather
and beaver, too,
stripped of younger branches
until the end, an antler now,
almost, as if the body lay just
beyond. Its possible journeys
are what I see now, battles for
the sake of finding one, but landing
on this island anyhow –
which makes it into another thing,
after all, this burning leap
of sudden purpose, like
an antelope perhaps, dancing
for the fire.