A soul, geologically
The longer we stay here the harder
it is for me to see you.
Your outline, skin
that marks you off
melts in this light
and from behind your face
the unknown areas appear:
hills yellow-pelted, dried earth
bubbles, or thrust up
You are the wind,
you contain me
I walk in the white silences
of your mind, remembering
the way it is millions of years before
on the wide floor of the sea
while my eyes lift like continents
to the sun and erode slowly
Don’t run any more. Quiet. How softly it rains
On the roofs of the city. How perfect
All things are. Now, for the two of you
Waking up in a royal bed by a garret window.
For a man and a woman. For one plant divided
Into masculine and feminine which longed for each other.
Yes, this is my gift to you. Above ashes
On a bitter, bitter earth. Above the subterranean
Echo of clamorings and vows. So that now at dawn
You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,
A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror
Are only forever once, even if unremembered,
So that you watch what it is, though it fades away,
And are grateful every moment for your being.
Let that little park with greenish marble busts
In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,
Remain as it was when you opened the gate.
And the street of tall peeling porticos
Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.
After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of morning
touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us;
but what I count, my rubies, my
children, are those moments
wide open when I know clearly
who I am, who you are, what we
do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
with all my senses hungry and filled
at once like a pitcher with light.
When your face
appeared over my crumpled life
at first I understood
only the poverty of what I have.
Then its particular light
on woods, on rivers, on the sea,
became my beginning in the coloured world
in which I had not yet had my beginning.
I am so frightened, I am so frightened,
of the unexpected sunrise finishing,
and tears and the excitement finishing.
I don’t fight it, my love is this fear,
I nourish it who can nourish nothing,
love’s slipshod watchman.
Fear hems me in.
I am conscious that these minutes are short
and that the colours in my eyes will vanish
when your face sets.
it’s only luck that brought him here, luck
and a love that had nothing to do with me,
except that this is what we sometimes get if we live
long enough, if we are patient with our lives.
They’re at that stage where so much desire streams between them, so much
frank need and want,
so much absorption in the other and the self and the self-admiring entity
and unity they make—
her mouth so full, breast so lifted, head thrown back so far in her laughter
at his laughter,
he so solid, planted, oaky, firm, so resonantly factual in the headiness of
being craved so,
she almost wreathed upon him as they intertwine again, touch again,
cheek, lip, shoulder, brow,
every glance moving toward the sexual, every glance away soaring back in
flame into the sexual—
that just to watch them is to feel again that hitching in the groin, that filling
of the heart,
the old, sore heart, the battered, foundered, faithful heart, snorting again,
stamping in its stall.
I would press my lips to your ear
and hope the terror in my heart stirs you.
I want to devote myself to the mystery
of this afternoon. I want to honor this falling night, worship the hour vanishing
between six and seven. This moment
where I’m standing against myself and against you with a taste in my mouth
With Bob Marley taking that one long drag
on the refrigerator door.
With the smell of spring.