you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.
you not a noplace
mister with his hands on you
he got his hands on
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself,
and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain—
the wild and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
When first we faced, and touching showed
How well we knew the early moves,
Behind the moonlight and the frost,
The excitement and the gratitude,
There stood how much our meeting owed
To other meetings, other loves.
The decades of a different life
That opened past your inch-close eyes
Belonged to others, lavished, lost;
Nor could I hold you hard enough
To call my years of hunger-strife
Back for your mouth to colonise.
Admitted: and the pain is real.
But when did love not try to change
The world back to itself–no cost,
No past, no people else at all–
Only what meeting made us feel,
So new, and gentle-sharp, and strange?
When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
i have decided that
love may no longer
summon me to war
i have laid off my troops
blood-bathed my body
clean of all sin
i will no longer kiss
like breaking my law
or make love
like being broken into
i will clear my eyes
of all my specks
and then i shall see you
these are the days
of the sweet treaty
Morning papers say debris has washed up on the coastline,
and I do not know if they mean plastic or flesh.
Some of us blur these lines.
We, who live outside the membrane of being,
inside the hum of our nightly prayers,
everything we are fearful of has already happened. Is already happening.
I couldn’t tell you all the ways
land imprints on a body,
on a memory,
but each dollar sent back home carries a watermark I can’t ignore.
This sea has always swallowed us,
boats have always failed us,
land has always meant barbed wire and queuing and contributing and contributing
until the pillar-box red gloss of documentation
lends us a humanity our fathers never had.
Shouldn’t we be grateful, brother?
At least, for this?
Breathe across a telephone line,
dream to cast this currency this birthright forth at an uncle’s feet. Know I do not mean to.
Know that this is what they name “luck”