The wind plays
at being startled by my presence,
and rakes my body for wishes
my eyes have made, the silver cravings of
two coins. It is falling head
over heals to carry you over dirt,
follows as I walk across Macdonell’s Field
until peering into the Mennonite well,
I see into the neck of the heavenly earth,
and the bare brown trees circling
our extinct sun. And in each step, the ground waits
to feel what it must give into next.
What if a word could breathe on its own,
or swim in a pail which we would draw up,
and shining, coldly, let us drink from it?
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.
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
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.
I think of the fog in the lowlands this morning.
How something that can’t be perfectly seen
is the thing you want to reach for,
you say is beautiful –
becomes the very thing
you constantly lose, never quite having.
It’s strange thinking you forget.
But, I can’t grasp you, either,
you, pretending to be blinded by your hair
before I sweep it from your eyes
the yellow cornfields left trembling.
lifts the clothes on the line,
pausing to lick leaping, naked skins,
like a kind of bee.
Once again they prove
The yellow barley field looks like a planet
halfway between Earth and Mars. And, I don’t want
to mention the birds again, appearing
from other lives, but look, how can I not?
…they speak for the dead tree in the middle ground,
one hundred feet up. It appears to be a lander,
likely from Earth, or a canopy of open arms,
or vein-engulfing eye; here, I admit,
I’ve been photographing it for years,
and it’s changed every time. And, though it’s dried-out,
it draws me, as if I were river. I’ve considered going,
but its distance deceives; even the sun tangles in and out
of its branches. One can’t get close enough;
or, too near. I must remind myself, how close the planet veered
into mine, last time, how alive the branches seemed
that sometimes I felt the birds had planted,
and carried me, within.