Thursday, April 17, 2008

Someplace in Austin, Texas
in April 2004 runs a creek

with pebbles smoothed
and babbled. Someplace

in the creek is the white
stone I held in my hand

as Joshua held my arm
with his entire body

and told me to bend
my wrist just so.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Her collegiate years she stood
background, mouth open, words
formed--the wrong medium for
capture. Goldenrod by the sun
light, streamed white through her
bedside window. Said her Hail
Mary in the rector's room.
Said Our Father cloaked
in basil; knees touching
tracing the completeness of
a hummingbird in flight.

By the crate of the elevator door
is the place where the belly of his
hand met Lizzie's soft left temple.
An uncertainty of possession:
was it his pulse or hers beating
through the thinness.

Underneath all sleeps. Lizzie knows
in like a lion and what follows.
Perhaps there are grimmer ways to
love another. Let us attempt discovery--

Lizzie, there are things that cannot be held.
Water falling from the shower faucet; the spin
of the ceiling fan; his tongue on teeth. The clouds
clotting the sky are made of ice, not
whimsy. Lizzie is uninvited to my poem.
Find what unearths: these words become spring.
The elbows of branches, after months spent straight,
now flex bent. Bees buzzing everywhere;
an oozing strawberry chin; the tree outside
stands blushing; and somewhere:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Waves, Again

(the first line in every section is taken from Virginia Woolfe's The Waves)

I hear through it far off, far away, faint and far, the chorus beginning; wheels; dogs; men shouting; church bells; the chorus beginning. A landscape perhaps; of clouds clotting the shoreline; of Texas unfolding behind us; the westward rains quieting; or synesthesia;--feeling your hands on me like the musk forrest bed, October.

Save for these, I would bury it all as I bury these ugly stones that are always scattered about this briny coast with its piers and its trippers. I would send my best homeward, heading onward, tripping all over myself. To be buried, to ask for an unearthing. To need another; to be within arm's reach; and the weight of air replacing sand.

Month by month things are losing their hardness; even my body now lets the light through; my spine is soft like wax near the flame of the candle. I have dripped away early spring. I am puddling, I am creeking. I am bayous beyond your back gate. Once stood a tree, blushing with April. Once stood a tree blushing but it is gone now. That is to say it never stood. Each leaf fell to the muddy shores to be swallowed. To be swallowed, to be within arm's reach, to be laid side by side with my teenage hope, my skin two days dirty, the pears four days too ripe.

I have torn them off and screwed them up so that they no longer exist, save as a weight in my side. I have left you there, in peace or pieces, without a map or stones to cover your eyes. I have renamed you, replaced you, untraced my steps to the spot beneath your window where we would wait for time to favor us.

The birds sang passionate songs addressed to one ear only and then stopped. I have no home. It is what happens when you leave a place for a long time and return to something else. The trees grow taller, otherwise they are trimmed in May, otherwise they are cut down. I remember seeds from the market; seeds sitting in my entire palm; the hard of the dirt; the cold of the soil on my shins; the film under fingernails; my father's hands large and patting earth. Our house was not built; all we had was the plot and our plans.

The sun struck straight upon the house, making the white walls glare between the dark windows. The first morning I woke up in my room was bright and after that my memory is only leaf splotches; the elbows of branches reaching across the floor.

Barns and summer days in the country, rooms where we sat--all now lies in the unreal world which is gone. I read that memory and dreams can exist only in the present, again and again. Father's hand; the trenches in his palms; the scar across his thumb; my smallness felt inside his gardening gloves; my fists nesting inside the thumb. There were tulips for Easter lining the fence. Each spring we'd pick our colors. Each spring we pick our colors.

I see the pear tree through the streaked steam on the window-pane. I see the pears on the ground, surrounding the pear tree. I think of worship. I think of Sundays after church. Looking skyward, I'd tell you to watch the clouds but you would whistle grass, toss handfuls of soil into the air, exploding with green and bone-white roots like some organic fireworks display. I think of pears waiting on their branches, how I thought they wiggled before falling. I think I never saw one fall, only found them on the ground, sometimes days later, bugs freckling the soft yellow skin.

In this silence it seems as if no leaf would ever fall, or bird fly. We are weighty as we are waiting for time to favor us. Flight depends on density. Dependency is such a heavy concept; the densest idea to float; your hand folding into mine; the grass ticking all around us; this is a time of day.

I said to myself, by a lion on Trafalgar Square, by the lion seen once and for ever;--so I revisit my past life, scene by scene, there is an elm tree, and there lies Percival. His fur still soft, his eyes still open. I read that memory and dreams can only exist in the present but there lies Percival. I confuse his softness for a bitterness, the back spread of my tongue activated with each touch from ears to tail. I confuse the soil covering his body as you shovel over his grave for the waves on the muddy shores. I confuse your voice for the sound of leaving, a ticket halved on crease; a passport photo; you're past this; waiting transatlantically.

Tahiti becomes possible. The pit of your knee becomes possible. The softest stretch of my wrist becomes possible. The moss on tree trunks; the bayou beyond your back gate; the tree there, blushing; the radio static ; palms full of grass; Texas, unfolding. The years spent; the time gone; a hand folding into another becomes possible.

Rippling small, rippling grey, innumerable waves spread beneath us. You've grown taller, but this does not mean you are permanent. Find Father chopping down the pear tree, found the roots dead-ending into the cement foundation beneath our house. The tree is sick. The tree has no pears. The tree is gone now.