In the middle of my room,
by winter glass lit and dappled,
I sat till passions had passed.
I, coronate; I, insouciant
as the freeze over the land,
But something came and knocked the pane,
set rushing my raptureless blood.
I stepped outdoors to find my course
made sweet with the sun and mud.
So, what is this that skips and reels?
A tumbling flag, come torn from its stake
again, now to tremble against the ground
and shake the heart awake.
And who is this, with beads so blue,
who walks where the seed is outbroken and grown,
full as a furnace and soft as a star,
like none I’ve ever known?
And through me it rose up, enkindled, a bolt through the dark:
my heart, leaping crazy, as, begging, you sang through the park
and praised the ghosts of radio who taught you how to go in disguise,
to murmur as if purposeful with artful streaks of dirt around your eyes.
Saw you rise
above the lagging breakers of the lake behind,
like a pillar hung with heather and with eglantine.
Oh, my radiant, oh, resplendent tower
risen up among the beasts at the feasting hour.
And when I rose, I rose to you.
And when we lay down, how the floodwaters rolled
and clutched at my tattered, insufferable heart,
made riotous and bold.
I learned, in turn, to dip and wheel,
a gull in the tempest, to eddy and fall
against so vast a sky as yours,
engulfed, and oh, so small.
And I recall:
how you pried it open, the old plastron cradling my soul;
how you stripped me clear down to my waist,
and, after my hatching, your turntable scratching
a languid tango all over the place;
how, mostly uncovered, remembering the others —
a flame on the finger, a beak in the eye —
I thrashed till the morning. Like robins soaring away over corn
went we, weary, but wise.
(Wildness in your wild mind,
and I stuck by your side, playing mute and blind.
Didn’t you seek? And didn’t you find?)
Dawn-struck and grinning (but quiet) we moved in the kitchen —
despite our condition, un-slowed —
and stashed packs of matches away in my autumn’s-blood jacket
for later, out there on the road.
We drove through the country like specters —
my sweet resurrector, the pillows, the pill box, and I —
in a waltz across fault-lines, spilling forth joyful
like bees swarming up to the curve of the sky.
I would this body, dense with dust,
would turn as clear as sky:
you’d see I love you as I must
and need no longer any trust
nor fear for any lie.
More bright than the bright silent summer moon —
more long than the long scarlet contour of Mars —
aren’t you my only one?
No love was there ever like ours.
The silver chain will brown with rust,
the hound lie down to die,
till orange blooms in gorgeous lust
have broken from the frozen crust
of ashen months passed by.
On that cold, yellow hillside, got warm on the inside,
the fog of our breath gone stretching like smoke to the cloud.
Then you took me out walking away from the squawk
of the rubber, the rod, and the spoke
to find in the pasture a picket of ash
standing sunk and alone in the blue of the gley,
and that’s where you faced me, saying Oh, baby,
this is the way, oh, this is the way.
(Waning white in the blue light of dawn,
so sure that when you die you won’t be gone.
Aren’t I a child for holding on?)
Straw sticking out from my wrists, I shuddered and twisted
and hung o’er our lambent domain,
ghastly and bloodless — and yet, so in love,
so pathetic and grasping. At last, you explain
(pin-piercéd as there were a raven fierce ravening your bones)
that you (you alone) will be born by the flame.
Enkindled completely, commorient, and sweetly, in mutual mourning,
the king I became.
How dark blew the dust that she danced on with horseshoes and thorns!
To think on the smallest or largest is more than we are formed for.
As reapers throng to see the phantom’s form, she opens wide her newborn eyes,
and still she sees the shorebird standing still, and still she stands inside the tide,
and slender limbs still quiver on the breeze where she has blossomed back to life.
Who died to be the soil and decay? Who died to be the seed and rise?
And still the earth returns, in fruit and chaparral and ferns,
how they shine! how they shine! how they shine!
Your interminable birth out of earth, out of sun,
sends you searching for your ghost, half-asleep, on the run.
You, the wandering star that I tumble around
till the contents of my clothes are returned to the ground.
released May 10, 2019
Tessa Anderson | Flute
John Dunlop | Cello
Christopher Hawthorn | Trumpet
Sofia Hirsch | Violin
Dan Liptak | Clarinet
Laura Markowitz | Viola
Robinson Morse | Bass
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