The corridors seethe with nocturnal predators,
their voices low.
My door latch coughs, a figure hisses,
I’ve come to draw blood,
wrenches my arm like a lamb shank,
rasps it with alcohol, plunges her spike,
pops one after another color-coded
rubber-stoppered vial into the sheath,
unplugs each loaded one to add
to the crimson log pile weighting my thigh,
steals more, it seems, than ample sample
of the provisional liquor of my life.
It is nothing, a mordent
of the spirit,
a small fall
like the exhalation
of a breath;
the way that,
for just a moment
after the rib cage sinks
in a house
where someone is dying,
there is a silence
so deep, it is impossible
to tell its source,
or to believe
the veracious beating,
like a small, sharp scruple
in your own breast.
Stranger, mislaid love, I will
sleepwalk all night not girlish
but zombie-like, zombie-lite
through the streets in search of
your arms. Let’s meet at dawn
in the park to practice an ancient art
while people roll by in the latest
space-age gear blank as mirrors
above the procedure in the stainless
steel theaters where paper-gowned
we take ourselves to take ourselves
apart. Tap-tap-spark. So little blazes.
Cover the roofs with precision hooves.
Push back the forest like a blanket.
A bird the right color is invisible,
only movement catches the eye.
My most illustrious Lord, I know
how to remove water from moats
and how to make an infinite number
of bridges. Here we are at the palace.
Here we are in the dark, dark woods.
translated by Marcela Sulak
Of all the questions
to ask: did you pack it yourself?
Yes, by myself.
It was hard, I said,
but it is harder to fear
that it will never come.
I am not beautiful, you see,
and the heart is the size of a fist.
This hour, while a child sleeps, before he wakes
and those arcadian hours we make together—
is it a continued arch, vaulted, open at both ends, is it
a bending?—recommence. Yes, a bending.
Light before you’d call it light bluing the sky.
The old city below, a fidget toy’s
string of buildings; doves calling and answering
from ledges in the cavities; a low
branching into divisions of memory;
a hot afternoon’s lunch on the grounds
of the museum, children at play in
tethered circles; traffic and voices from the avenues
carrying along the bright cold mornings
on the lawns of big houses near the hotel;
those who saw me home, whoever they were
(though I know who they are), I also saw them home.
I rode in their cars. I rode with the mother of the boy
who lost all his words, she gave us a ride, the boys
with their large eyes, sitting up high beside
each other and smiling; the empty avenues
of asphalt from the station to the new
hospital to the corner we rounded
and, past the galvanized fence, a school;
the city narrows there;
there is the river, suddenly;
and then a spread of houses like a cowl on the head
of the island; a journey whose meaning
was as yet unknown though I know it sometimes;
sheep on a patch of land at the convergence
of two superhighways; no silence in the train;
harvesters in orange and red slickers
among the lettuces; swifts overhead;
apricots flecked with rose; lichen spreading
on corrugated iron; short-wave voices of those
who are gone now remembered in the intonation
of throwaway phrases; it should not follow
but it follows; and are their fathers here;
one of them is, white stubble where his razor
didn’t pass that calls up his morning,
the temperature of his cheek, and how
luck befriended us then, and at this hour,
which rests on a child’s sleeping.
Hens have their gravel; gravel sticks
The way it should stick, in the craw.
And stone on stone is tooth
For grinding raw.
And grinding raw, I learn from this
To fill my crop the way I should.
I put down pudding stone
And find it good.
I find it good to line my gut
With tidy octagons of grit.
No loophole and no chink
Make vents in it.
And in it vents no slime or sludge;
No losses sluice, no terrors slough.
God, give me appetite
for stone enough.
It’s snowing in a way that reminds me
of people who rarely complain.
I imagine the oldest woman eating bread: silent,
half asleep, softly chewing mngna, mngna, mngna.
I am thankful for snow
and the black stillness of evergreens
the way they line up on the street
here in my New England.
I have made it mine, the way
a young girl finds someone’s lipstick
and makes it hers.
It doesn’t matter that it’s half used
it matters that it’s lipstick and she wears it
down to her chin.