Blesok no. 47, March-April, 2006
Our bicycle music
is a thrum and rattle under summer trees.
It's your knee thrusting, thrusting
a dark weight
against the weight of the green bicycle.
It's my shoulder against yours,
so we don't know who leans
as the bicycle jumps
a pothole, surfs a rut
and the little dog barks from behind his gate
and flies below the trees make us a corona or two.
We’re students again
bowling along the city streets
you on the saddle and I on your crossbar:
and your breath is in my hair
for ever, for ever.
All the roses were red
and the ivy was all black.
Darling, that little shift you make
reawakens all my fears.
The sky was too blue, too tender,
the sea too green and the air too soft.
I always fear – this is what waiting is! -
you'll abandon me horribly
and I'm tired of the holly-bush with its varnished leaves
and the glossy box tree
and of never-ending countryside
and of everything that isn't you!
Tumble of wings. The broken bird
faces nothing. It's a blamming of shoulders against panes,
wings, tail, bunched to the heart’s bursting force;
a mop of black feathers in which blood fists and scrubs and fists
Afterwards, you lift the bird and its eye's sealed
as if resigned to your weakness. As if resisting
the stillness which opens like glass to show
yellow silk creased at the lid, the blare of blood on a beak.
Pull a flick-flack stretch of wing and let it go.
In The Early Evening, As Now
In the early evening, as now, a man is bending
over his writing table.
– Louise Glück, Poem
The lawn's in front of him:
a sly blackbird pecks sideways
and a bent twig moves like a compass needle. He's breathing hard
with that indrawn rasp of concentration,
this outgoing whistle. Through tense lips.
Beyond this, beyond the view from the window,
is that further view in which the man
leans against the glass towards
names and persons we don't see.
He's attached to them
by filaments of painful attention they can't break:
they're a puzzle to him
and he works to solve them. Like the small-footed beetle
balancing its way from grass-blade to grass-blade.
You're right. To enter you
is to enter a forest
where everything's alive.
Leaves stirring with private gesture.
Presence is vivid scent,
the eye a spy in a wooden hide:
moving through as if native
how form opens to form,
bulb into fern into tree.
How life constantly turns outward -
bursting with leaves and tendrils.
If this sounds like a sketch
instead of a letter
tonight the forest's so full of shape and sound
I hardly know where to begin
In a Hall of Mirrors
self finds self. Repeated.
Reflection's a gilded cage,
words rustle furiously against it.
In gold frames one self
prints over another, one movement
sets another lurching the opposite way.
Meanwhile, susurration of language:
speaking, we trigger a chorus
of selves. Their mouths move in silence
stopped up with glass;
and we resist them
even as they meet our eye
as if they, or we, were guilty.
The Orpheus Variation
Who'd believe, meeting us now,
that once we saw daylight undress each other
our skin smooth and cool as tiles:
that our breath stirred the leaves
in each other's hair?
The X File
It doesn't matter what I say or do,
You don't love me. That's the end of it.
Doesn't matter that I loved so well
I lost myself in keeping sight of you.
No gifts, no words, no tendernesses prove
Truths that you untell, the proofs you fell
Blind to logic, making stories fit
The way your shoulder used to, or the tender groove
Between your thumb and palm that once clipped mine
Neat as a file, holding knowledge tight:
That you were mine. You're not tonight.
Instead I travel on, through dark so fine
You might think that was what got in my eyes:
And not the strain of saying these goodbyes.