Learn from me. Learn
That I survived - that despite
The thorns of human nature, against
All contrary will, despite
Grief and my heart breaking open,
I am alive.
Press the pads of your fingers on pages
As you turn, as you learning turn.
The thunderclap, the trumpet cry
That dusty hands chiselled into
Old faces: this
Was for you.
There is a song for this. There is
Somewhere, I swear it, a poet
Who knew your exquisite pain.
And on a ceiling you will find my gift:
Where doves wheel moth-like,
Of the fear.
Let me mark your brow with lips
Before the dying leaves
Your crown become.
Let me kiss your dreaming eyes
Before you pay with coins
For their demise.
It is a quiet thing this knowledge; I hear it only
When I am silent (though outside noises make no matter -
It is louder in crowds,
When the pressing crunching sound of others and others pushes
Against my eardrums,
A tide I never thought to match, a roar to make pebbles shake
And wrench against sand, beat, beating on the shore
Against my eardrums
Even then it is louder and the orchestra ever tunes).
I will not throw this away.
My shell hardens and peels in the erratic English sun;
We are golden, eyes searching out pale from our faces.
This thing with its density, the curious weight
Of silence: it makes no bid for escape.
Would that it could grow wings, burst from my chest,
Shatter ribs, puncture me, pull me inside out.
Would that I might hollow from its loss.
It might crawl out of my throat, many legged, and
I would choke. But no, this thing, this knowledge,
Sinks. It has come here to die, and already so heavy
My legs ache to bear it: this weight will break my back.
And the orchestra ever tunes; there are a million masses
We might play, though the choice is no longer ours.
I lift the bow; taste the reed between my lips;
I fill my lungs but cannot stand.
This thing, this knowledge - this quiet thing -
I cannot stand.
It is August, the swollen heart of the summer holidays,
Though no one has thought to inform the heavens.
The concrete shell of the ground was speckled as an egg this morning,
And the rain is unceasing in cold curtains.
“Something always happens,” says the tow headed boy, with
The easy assurance of youth. I shrug and huddle in fleece.
Later, my brother falls and his blood is bright against the
Grey of the day. There is nowhere to stand;
Rocks rise from the sea wet as waves, unbetrayed by the light
That does not come from above. I clamber barefoot,
Unsure. For gone is the ease and gone is my youth,
Though the dark sea I squint at, and the lazy white horses,
And the pale flesh encasing me: These are constants.
stars a careening madness in the ink above,
I look for bats - there are always bats.
(For the longest time I did not see lightning
Split the sky but
The growl of the gods remained with me)
rain came in whispers, in stuttered shouts,
and it was not like weeping
too free, too light to stand like mortals, it is just
for joy in life that I let my feet sink, kissed
and devoured by the new mud.
alone but not in sorrow I came to her;
and what wonder to love one so old and proud
endless in power and profound.
I came to the edge and did not fall.
were not like weeping.
Everything I write is a paean to you
The soundtrack of my pilgrimmage
Letters circle and wave across pages
Because we live
Because I love you
For the pillowed box you keep the heart in
A time to lean off the cliff with the wind rushing to catch you, carding through your hair, never the red you want, but red enough against a topaz sea
A time to cast aside
A time to cast the dice
Soon (the singing of fall coronachs
from coast to coast to coast)
she will turn to the woods;
she will find her witch.
“Did you weep?” asks the witch, taking in a face
like bruised fruit.
“Once,” she lies. (Her eyes are red
because she cannot close them in the shower;
slick chemicals smooth into the blindness she craves,
sightless as uncounted stars on an August evening.)
“Exchanges must be made,” says the witch, tapping her pen,
she folds it into the smallest bottle. Varnish still sticks to the sides.
Returned: her sorrows, safe to swallow.
They taste salt, and she is down again.
But she can run; the trees are on fire and she feels
the heat in her muscles, grieving, golden, kaleidoscope leaves,
the psalm of the autumn sun. She can climb; the earth is adrift
and she knows the beat and stretch and vixen cry of scraping skin,
dreaming iron on stone. She can run.
The mistral sky wakes to her. The hills sway and roll,
and through crust and scrub she may run to the witch.
If you’d punish boyish folly with a poor few missing fingers
Well then go ahead,
I must never go far from the sea again, I said
Drag me dead
Out to the frozen grave prepared.
The snows are early this year, I said
I didn’t kill you, child; look to your burnt body.
It wasn’t me.
when the light stopped sinking through the gaps between leaves
we let the evil out
a sledgehammer to keyboard ribs
slate crack thunderous in the silver stillness
we let the evil out
let it rot and sour in the sun
we let the evil out
and cradled - the feather thrum the bird in the hand -
a thousand thoughts: i’m free