It seemed the kind of life we wanted.
Wild strawberries and cream in the morning.
Sunlight in every room.
The two of us walking by the sea naked.
Some evenings, however, we found ourselves
Unsure of what comes next.
Like tragic actors in a theater on fire,
With birds circling over our heads,
The dark pines strangely still,
Each rock we stepped on bloodied by the sunset.
We were back on our terrace sipping wine.
Why always this hint of an unhappy ending?
Clouds of almost human appearance
Gathering on the horizon, but the rest lovely
With the air so mild and the sea untroubled.
The night suddenly upon us, a starless night.
You lighting a candle, carrying it naked
Into our bedroom and blowing it out quickly.
The dark pines and grasses strangely still.
Before the fall rains come,
Let’s have one more picnic,
Now that the leaves are turning color
And the grass is still green in places.
Bread, cheese and some black grapes
Ought to be enough,
And a bottle of red wine to toast the crows
Puzzled to find us sitting here.
If it gets cold—and it will—I’ll hold you close.
Night will come early.
We’ll watch the sky, hoping for a full moon
To light our way home.
And if there isn’t one, we’ll put all our trust
In your book of matches
And my sense of direction
As we grope our way in the dark.
It’s like fishing in the dark
If you ask me:
Our thoughts are the hooks,
Our hearts the raw bait.
We cast the line over our heads,
Past all believing,
Into the starless midnight sky,
Until it’s lost to sight.
The line’s long unravelling
Rising in our throats like a sigh
Of a long-day’s weariness,
Soul-searching and revery.
The Oldest Child
The night still frightens you.
You know it is interminable
And of vast, unimaginable dimensions.
"That's because His insomnia is permanent,"
You've read some mystic say.
Is it the point of His schoolboy's compass
That pricks your heart?
Somewhere perhaps the lovers lie
Under the dark cypress trees,
Trembling with happiness,
But here there's only your beard of many days
And a night moth shivering
Under your hand pressed against your chest.
Oldest child, Prometheus
Of some cold, cold fire you can't even name
For which you're serving slow time
With that night moth's terror for company.
Talking To Little Birdies
Not a peep out of you now
After the bedlam early this morning.
Are you begging pardon of me
Hidden up there among the leaves,
Or are your brains momentarily overtaxed?
You savvy a few things I don't:
The overlooked sunflower seed worth a holler;
The traffic of cats in the yard;
Strangers leaving the widow's house,
Tieless and wearing crooked grins.
Or have you got wind of the world's news?
Some new horror I haven't heard about yet?
Which one of you was so bold as to warn me,
Our sweet setup is in danger?
Kids are playing soldiers down the road,
Pointing their rifles and playing dead.
Little birdies, are you sneaking wary looks
In the thick foliage as you hear me say this?
for Tomaz, Susan and George
Know the devil
That the snow grows whiter
After a crow has flown over it,
That a dark dusty corner
Is the place of dreamers and children,
That a broom is also a tree
In the orchard of the poor,
That a hanging roach there
Is a mute dove.
Brooms appear in dreambooks
As omens of approaching death.
This is their secret life.
In public, they act like flat-chested old maids
They are sworn enemies of lyric poetry.
In prison they accompany the jailer,
Enter cells to hear confessions.
Their short-end comes down
When you least expect it.
Left alone behind a door
Of a condemned tenement,
They mutter to no one in particular,
Words like virgin wind moon-eclipse,
And that most sacred of all names:
In this and in no other manner
Was the first ancestral broom made:
Namely, they plucked all the arrows
From the bent back of Saint Sebastian.
They tied them with a rope
On which Judas hung himself.
Stuck in the stilt
On which Copernicus
Touched the morning star...
Then the broom was ready
To leave the monastery.
The dust welcomed it -
The great pornographer
Immediately wanted to
Look under its skirt.
The secret teaching of brooms
Excludes optimism, the consolation
Of laziness, the astonishing wonders
Of a glass of aged moonshine.
It says: the bones end up under the table.
Bread-crumbs have a mind of their own.
The milk is you-know-who's semen.
The mice have the last squeal.
As for the famous business
Of levitation, I suggest remembering:
There is only one God
And his prophet is Mohammed.
And then finally there's your grandmother
Sweeping the dust of the nineteenth century
Into the twentieth, and your grandfather plucking
A straw out of the broom to pick his teeth.
Long winter nights.
Dawns a thousand years deep.
Kitchen windows like heads
Bandaged for toothache.
The broom beyond them sweeping,
Tucking in the lucent grains of dust
Into neat pyramids,
That have tombs in them,
Already sacked by robbers,
Once, long ago.