damp colours in old newspaper
and petals of fish bones
from an old meal
i must empty the cloudy water
from the vase too; we
are eating white rice in a window
from blue bowls that blush like lookouts
on the glass of this downpouring street
the uneven limestone rough
in the slippery light
i showed a friend that picture of you
she must be the rain or that person
you were missing
he says to himself;
and should I tell you that your
breathing as you sleep next to me
is the blurry street watering
past brick stones the only time you
are not startled by my love
but when my love is its purest
and dear i must empty the cloudy water
from the vase, too
I am fifty this year,
after Christmas, the late buds
assemble their small hooves
in the wind of the dead season.
The Mennonites with their black horses do not walk
out into the uncovered fields,
or step over their roots tarred in muddy flesh.
We cannot love whom we must,
yet cannot imagine another;
the earth is wrong for this place.
Someone’s calling, maybe,
but I’ve left my phone in the car,
again, beneath the boots, behind the passenger seat.
The problem is, it’s now too much for a man to
wake up, get dressed, and walk simply
out from this place. It’s too much when
he’s nothing to lose, except his clothes,
and the door, once it’s opened, and his breath
in the cold air’s windy glow. There’s nothing
that will stop him from tip-toeing across
the invisible coals, naked like the snow.
Out here, things do their best, naturally,
to hide, by trying out as other things,
such as forgetting, or a kind of certainty
that follows the lost. And it’s strange
how things lose themselves when they
have been left right there, out here in the open,
but our eyes, of course, in the end,
adjust to darkness, and belong to every fallen thing.
Like that stuff on the walkway,
the chalky equations we don’t understand.
The scalped footprints, trampling each other
as they make their way without the light.
Or, that satellite pretending to be a falling star inside
the milky way, dropping away from
the faraway crescent moon,
I write about rivers again,
As if they were about love.
The raft, for instance, I saw,
Glued-together by summer of
Winter is here
Smoothly disfigure into
A perfect smooth bruise.
So, love buries loss,
Before it creates it.
Every word is a second language.
Rivers are clear
About this: they are ghosts.
They leave, they come,
They are never here.
Only bodies swim.
Only a body holds a promised land.
Only bodies drown.
The evenings have become cooler,
but I don’t mind. It’s the darkness I fear.
It comes sooner.
But, I don’t want to drive away now; I see love,
and when I turn the headlights off over Wellesley Pond
and your voice on the phone begins to come in clear,
there are the stars.
As if you’ve travelled with them to be here.
So that’s not it.
It’s that I don’t want to trip over what I cut away,
those places where I failed love,
the stars that became holes.
It’s that darkness
that makes me shiver.
The wind is just
A metaphor for the soul,
the way light is,
or a metaphor for emptiness,
the way rain is – except
in a field at the end of winter,
preparing a way
for the sun.
Bootprints track in meltwater,
And, I recall the deer this morning
That turned into the woods,
Unveiled trails of breath
For air, then speeding into the city,
Cars singing, like whales,
The snow-waved sidewalks
It rains so much without seeing it,
Then, sitting on a chair nearest the door,
The deer followed me,
Came in so close,
I knew she was gone.
I’m sorry you’re no longer here
to see this. I needed to stay.
You may as well be snow.
Beautiful, silent, pure.
I needed a landscape.
You loved to drift.
which you think
in a form
to a friend,
No, you don’t know
a manner of speaking,
allow the words
all at once,
as if only
that it is in
the north lakes,
sense ice beneath
’til it’s thin
all of it
deep as it
will take you
We spoke of taking pictures,
that vision briefly visits, like light.
Delusion’s weather, too, and
here today are its giant legs of fog,
stomping out its figures,
splashing cattle on the grizzled creek,
tripping over slumps of fields
and spitting into culverts.
Clouds swim low as mud,
ignorant of every bird they’ve drowned.
Feathers blur as my green-eyed lashes
grey in notes of rain,
which come to sing to worms,
draw away the snakes of mist.
“Leave me,” they will sing,
to see what I am in this world,
“Let me take the picture I swore I saw.”
But nothing hears how silent I am; I stay still
as I can be, but nothing moves.