It started with your voice, your shimmering breath
spiraling downward through the water's depth -
calling - so strange! - my name. I rose, undreamed,
and came to you. Across that space it seemed
the world unfolded of itself, a findern
flower, pheasant's eye, the unfilled cistern
of your heart. Then I came upon you, lost,
pitiful - until you saw me there, ghost
of your ghost, shade of your shade, reflection
of your longing. You bent to me, passion
finding mirrored passion, the gloaming coal
of mouth, of lips, of whispered betrothal.
Tethered, as a fevered dowry, to this
our conjugated sin, we pledged our kiss.
At the violet hour, a tent’s unexpected
shelter from constables and rain. Past doorway, beaded
threshold, the lacqueria, the ivory familiars...
She sat, eyes askance from my Smith & Wesson, unsheathed,
as if that gypsy woman had been waiting for me,
a calendar square, red-circled, a covenant due.
On her table a wicked pack of cards – semblable,
soeur sinistre, clairvoyante extraordinaire – “Look!”
she said. “Your past exhumed: The Lovers, once entwined, torn
by avarice and Fortune’s Wheel.” The candle flickered,
like a lost soul burning. “This your present, Hierophant.
Your torture runs for years. Seven Cups, this signifies
the evils you have tasted with your lips, too often.”
And of what was to come? – “The High Priestess, there she sits,
desirous of your soul, as yet unclaimed. And this is
the card penultimate, eyes bound with the gauze of pride –
Judgement.” I gaped. These cards, death-qualified jurymen
of a malignant trial where this my soul, my Jabez,
was all but forfeit. Her fingers stroked the final suit:
“And this is you.” My resolution startled, cried out,
but my choked voice could find no oratory fervor.
I raised my revolver as the sirens swirled outside.
The verdict thundered, and the bullet struck, a gavel –
On that card, emblazoned with my face – The Hanged Man.
On the waves, the shadow of this
loneliness trails and lengthens.
Its arms reach out for you, trembling
like the sigh of a lost soul.
Last light, and my despair engulfs
this night, sky-wide, ocean-deep.
Six inches, after the first storm. A whir
of blades across the snow-packed pavement's trench,
and the blower splattered across the fence
a Pollock canvas, an hoarfrost-strewn blur
from the Tecumseh engine's angry burr.
Against winter, this is your armament -
a 2-stage, 11-hp, 30-inch,
pull-start, self-propelled silverback monster.
She fought back with seven inches, her scrawl
strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk.
A quick change of spark plugs after a stall,
and you push her across the border, back.
In the morning's ceasefire, the white crystal
of last night's fray reveals a silver Rorschach.
Midwinter closes. This afternoon's snow,
that melted in droplets on this surface
of frail glass, transfigures into ice.
From where I stand, outside, the hall light's glow
paints a refracted portrait of your face,
a palette of sadness, pain, of sacrifice.
Each frozen prism, ice lens, a cameo
of suffering, a Murano glass trace
of time wearing down these, our fragile lies.
And will this be how I remember you?
Face fading in unconsummated grace,
light failing - and I cannot see your eyes.
Shorn of season, the wind begins to blow.
Midwinter closes, and you watch me go.
Moonlight cast its perfumed spell, beloved,
Down on me – and you as well, beloved.
Unworthy, I beheld you, veiled; but O
The heavens parted, and I fell, beloved.
I would sweep across the desert rampart
To your side, this thirst to quell, beloved.
I would bind myself to sanctuary
In your arms, embrace this cell, beloved.
God sever this cursed tongue and stitch these lips,
Should I ever say farewell, beloved.
But if that God should turn his back on you –
I would be your infidel, beloved.
For all my soul desires is to be yours,
Your supplicant, your Samuel, beloved.
I remember sunlight,
clear as divination, an open
palm of bright
meteorology. I remember
the world splayed open like
an unfolded map,
the castle’s ridged
latitude scaled against the carp-mouth
breathing flow and
ebb of the
Otagawa river’s stream, swirling and
swift. I remember
the wind whirling
through branches, the elms thumb-tacked
onto the landscape
like the numbered
elevations on a contour map,
by the light
encircled. And I
remember the faint shadow of
the plane, its
contrail jackknifed across
the pale throat of sky,
this Hiroshima sky.
You remember - perhaps more than love –
the staircase of uncounted hours,
conscientious reason, past disdain
of feeling. Geometry sets out
simple propositions, axioms: We
follow those axioms, derived, reduced
to the last question, unanswerable
by the methods of geometry. We
cannot ask. We can only say that
geometry deals with two, tally
assertions, the word ‘true’, the habit
of correspondence, connection. We are
the geometry of bodies, a physics -in terms of rule and compass - incomplete.
Tonight, I am six again, and your
hands hold me shivering there,
anchored to your shoulders,
navigating waters lapping now my
knees, your chest, rising like the
storm’s dark curse. Now here, your
gnarled hand in mine, in prayer,
I bow my head and thank what
vagrant providence gave me you -
if only for this briefest time, this
night - who laddered me to higher
ground, my weathered ark, my rock.