Coming in from the Rain

Rumination is made with a bell,
landing in me. Drizzle scarves
the shoulders. Dampness is not the opposite
of dust. Movement sticks to its illusion,
she said one night into the sound
of my name in her body. There are only steps, she said,
against the banks of things.
I make it back inside.
Shoes squelch the marble floor,
then plunge the hall. I move into the pulse of it,
up the dead river’s flow.
I can feel your heart in me, she said.

Again

Maybe, this morning
you are raking leaves,
scraping yellow canals through a yard’s
parched lake, that each morning,
after sleep, weigh lightly
against the ankles,
parts, as you walk, rejoin.

Fall is new here, and teases gravity,
and leaves dervish,
decomposing into birds.
But you loved trees,
didn’t you? And me,
mound of decay, smoke-bleached.

And now,
I feel myself breathe.
For a moment, I believe
I can decipher the air
where you sing to yourself,
wading in again, another road
peeling through the beautiful ruin,
recollecting, then, the old truth,
the new truth, that even trees will
have souls again,
while others blacken
as they burn.

Kioshkokwi

It rained in the kitchen
this morning.
Can I speak this way to you?
There is, after all, my passion
to consider, and your grace.
As I walked near the open sill today,
rain
breezed in, and I admitted
to myself, this feels like
a blessing might. So,
shall I
say something? After all, I
only feel it, like two
minor chords playing in their
different time, a miracle
because they steadily
enlarge
joy
from pain
But, I want you to tell me
about this thing of
hardly being born.
On Kioshkokwi River, we
paddled to Crooked Island,
south of Lost Dog Bay, and we
knelt
under a ridge of pine,
then spread ourselves into
eddies of fern and juniper,
as the storm pushed across,
and after
we lay surprised at the kind of rain
leafs and those long, untouchable
cuticles of sun can make,
without words, or praise, except
after, a spruce grouse from where we had
hid startled us, thumping up,
and coasted
through
the vivid woods.
And it drifted across the sill,
this morning, warm,
the light
turning in
a breeze against the sail of glass.
And, so, do I tell you I feel
dying here
is not quite
possible? That some things
arrive deep in night, or on
the thin surfaces of
mornings because
the days
only end, utterly.
Can I put this to words
for you, then believe that
we will continue to see
other days like
Kioshkokwi, that drifted
back this morning?
As though it rained that night,
droplets of sweat budding on
your lips, constellations
collecting along
your collarbone,
their tiny
stars emanating just beyond
the ochre nimbuses of your breasts,
celestial bodies
making
landfall
beneath me.
And, as I passed by
the window this morning,
left open all night, the rain
came in, at last
whirring through like
a river
in the air,
coming back
to life.

Last Words

I think I smiled when you said,
I’m dead to you. Last words, unoriginal,
not like you, sweetheart.
I’m going to drive from Hamilton through to Cambridge.
My mind will be as incandescent as their fields.
My metaphor will be the heart —
in keeping, at last, with your words,
under ground, devoured by
the body of dirt and the dull bones
that have turned into lead.
I’ll smile, the way a smile is a cliche,
a hole that buries things.

Trans Am

You go to bed very early,
wounded, but unsure how.
Maybe shot in the abdomen,
though still can’t seem to find the bullets,
or slammed by a Trans Am
on Russell Street, turning west,
or no, perhaps chased down
by a deer pursued by
the weakest sound. But,
having said that,
there are no Trans Ams anymore.
Still, you feel it. Somehow,
it’s there, but not
any more.

Recollection

And, we’re not even that old.
Though in front of you
I see how you forget already.
I hear how you say, you’ll try,
then hug me. But then you lean
and hold too long and next begin
to slip until the strain
is too much for me. And, there it is,
your eyes say,
your body against mine, as if perhaps
you had strayed in your sleep,
and here I was, lucky to catch you.
But, at 52, things are different with me.
Every hour my recollection betters,
with all that time we didn’t have.
I hold you there, bright still,
ripening at my touch,
an orchard of a thousand yous.

Fall Again

This freedom is not the same
as knowing. It lacks the fullness
of you. Meanwhile, the landscape in the field
still has not been removed
of the men who work there,
or their relief in the sun,
stretching its dark arms
through them, ready
to catch the colours that must surely
fall.

Short Story on Carden

He’s done writing, the coffee that keeps the tongue awake.
He leaves for the car, next to it finds a necklace,
and wonders, was it dropped by a woman,
reeled away by a flood. Was there time, at least, for touch,
knowing there is nothing to add that subtracts from goodbye.
The intersection’s a straight face blinks, ‘no,’ ‘yes’.
Shadows of birds look to him like parenthesis of flight.
A man from Jamaica waves from an island for a cab.
He writes much of this down on the back of a map of the north.
He writes how stories seem to flow back into their silence,
yellow and brown in the greens of lakes.
He writes of contrails drawing upstream,
and stones of hardened creeks cupping them in the way
he brings the echo of her vanishing to his lips.

Poetry Reading at the Coffeehouse

Maybe you are here tonight, back there,
sitting behind the darkness.
That darkness resembles you, you know,
and perhaps speaking to it
resembles me, who when he’s done
reading this, will have another coffee,
take the backroads he used to get here,
forget you again, like directions
to some place we needed each other
to bring the other to. You always insisted
on the open cup, your small shoulders that rose,
inhaling its steam as if you knew
you knew you’d disappear, too.
But, you don’t, both of us so inept,
even me forgetting how to forget,
reading tonight about a woman
who wondered what I would say next
if I’d run out of words. I don’t tell her,
because this is exactly what
I’m hoping for, that nothing
would happen in that poem,
that you would disappear in it,
that I would follow.

Revision

I was going somewhere, it seemed.
My clothing folded in piles on the bed.
I was putting them away.
The sun edged the corners of the drawers.
It occurred to me,
it’s not too late to change my mind,
to forget all that’s happened,
that I’d just arrived,
that someone,
who had just stepped out for a moment,
who had been here waiting for me,
would return,
the sun edging the corners
of the drawers.