*image: “Typhoon on Ha Long Bay,” Margo Lemieux
Your God says look behind you, watch your back,
Become the life in your hands, walk like a shadow,
Lose the afternoon, knot the hour, seek the future,
Tie your tongue, wherever you are
chant the names of the streets,
The colors of the doors,
The dread writhing outside the window —
And all along the long, self-perpetuating,
All along the imaginary, the woebegone.
Nothing can keep you from moving.
These clouds do not absorb repentances.
They drag under the sky.
Your God says this is desire wrestling itself from the branches
As the birds lord over the night,
As the old dogs yelp with the illusions,
As the cold nights turn ever-more cloistered,
And the night geometries of the crows do not abide.
Your God has not judged them as they subtract.
How long has it been since you yearned to be pierced
By the white sun? How long since it has risen?
Now it’s a warm wind. Half-sky. The clock thawing
The supernatural. You talking. Your God talking.
I could be the one who listens
measuring the little exhortations
In the smaller winds, in the noteless nothings.
I could be the one who listens to your robe at night
Softly sweeping against the floor,
you naked in front of me,
Your God naked behind you.
Like smoke. Like heartbreak.
Like the nipples touching the nipples,
Like the refusal of the world’s luscious squall.
Beautiful, beautiful life — of shattering brightness —
I can’t pencil it all in —
Not the irretrievable voices,
I mean, threading out and in.
The Midday Light Is An Oasis
The midday light is an oasis
Blurred against the spring,
A spirit of the houses burgeoning
As if unwatched, unwisely
Unwatched, and, suddenly,
The last puddles turn the birds
To little tiaras in the air —
They burst and glare
Against the haloed leaves.
All at once they furl back,
Unflame into a prank
Like jaunty-painted saints
Painted by a master
Keen to burn
Of absence that shimmers against the brink
Of a chirruping return of light
A preposterous thirst for light,
A slow proud shrill for light
Striking out for emptiness
That passes as the birds pass.
Clouds, I Said, Will Come Of It
Clouds, I said, will come of it,
Swelling, without wit,
As when the mind is with doubt,
And frozen drops quiver out
Onto the giving ground.
And what of birds that stand around
That come from pools and spring
Into the countenance of things?
There was a sudden fact: a dream,
An eerie flood of wings. I stopped
And made a blessing with my hands
That rippled with the land
And twitching rocks and a blur
That, uncorrupted, cleared, then stirred,
And grass appeared, bird by bird.
I’m not sure I could believe
What I knew to be there.
The ground still cold, bare,
The morning washed, and fair.
We wait more patiently than defenders of the faith
Nudging our duffs on and our ancient grudges
an inch or so
Toward king and country, toward thieves
And the last transformations
Liquified by equal laws,
Toward a century of rust and due submission.
Others took to the new land peacefully,
Weaned themselves on the new ports,
Buttered up and upset and obedient,
Gaining provincial death and fame
Like names of the underwritten —
say, Thomas English,
Who brought the muffins.
All of this may have existed with mistrust —
The days existed, the heart existed,
As if existence were condensed.
It was like some tireless
Form of the mouth or the moon, like the emptiness
Of the latest news.
And off on the horizon,
Somewhere, was windless light and the Anno Domini
Of denial, like Noah’s dream of the animals
And the rain and the dove
And the blowhard body politic
that clubs the obscure
Amens of men and women,
As well as the omens and enmities,
In the name of God,
While on the top decks
The immigrants play dice,
Divided by slices of silence,
While everywhere you can see
The sea groans with fog
And the great ships that wander the ocean.