translated by donald revell
Anemone and columbine
Where gloom has lain
Opened in gardens
Between love and disdain
Made somber by the sun
Our shadows meet
Until the sun
Is squandered by night
Gods of living water
Let down their hair
And now you must follow
A craving for shadows
The climate thinks with its knees.
When the wound opens, music suspires.
Opening a gate, I gain the color
below the roof tiles and the tree limbs.
You gave me
the late quartets
a black bird and
a white and the
Garden of Eden.
Your death belongs
to anyone but me.
I wonder so as not to forget. At night in Brooklyn, the tendrils
of a white sex denuded the sky, shimmering at the tall needle-
ends of buildings. The traffic was identical in the spring.
I am protected by only
music I cannot remember.
Why is it that the best
minds ended by composing
fairy tales? Death swarms.
There are many new beings,
the odor of hearts. The order
of the hour of mating ends. These are many
new butterflies, and death is no longer to
be eyed by a young girl, perhaps twelve years
old, slyly, as though the future were a man’s
sleeve or stride. I wonder so as not to end
dinner in a farmhouse. We sat at a low table.
Our host was dying but unaware, as she would
be murdered the next day in a distant city. There is an out-
side of language that is not silence. There is an outside of
God that is not isolation, a domestic animal teaching a dying
woman to hunt. A wound opens. A gate opens. Tendrils climb.
Day: it goes
A perfect circle falls
Onto white imperfections.
(Consider the black road,
How it seems white the entire
Length of a sunshine day.)
Or I could say
Shadows and mirage
Compensate the world,
Completing its changes
With no change.
In the morning after a storm,
We used brooms. Out front,
There was broken glass to collect.
In the backyard, the sand
Was covered with transparent wings.
The insects could not use them in the wind
And so abandoned them. Why
Hadn’t the wings scattered? Why
Did they lie so stilly where they’d dropped?
It can only be the wind passed through them.
Passes the same way.
And jealous earth,
There is a shadow you cannot keep
To yourself alone.
My soul wants only to go
The black road which is the white road.
I’m not needed
Like wings in a storm,
And God is the storm.
The bar in the commuter station steams
like a ruin, its fourth wall open
to the crowd and the fluttering timetables.
In the farthest corner, the television
crackles a torch song and a beaded gown.
She is my favorite singer, dead when I was born.
And I have been waiting for hours for a train,
exhausted between connections to small cities,
awake only in my eyes finding shelter
in the fluttering ribbon of shadow
around the dead woman singing on the screen.
Exhaustion is a last line of defense
where time either stops dead or kills you.
It teaches you to see what your eyes see
without questions, without the politics
of living in one city, dying in another.
How badly I would like to sleep now
in the shadows beside real things or beside
things that were real once, like the beaded gown
on the television, like the debut
of a song in New York in black and white
when my parents were there. I feel sometimes
my life was used up before I was born.
My eyes sear backwards into my head
to the makeshift of what I have already seen
or heard described or dreamed about, too weary
not to envy the world its useless outlines.
Books of photographs of New York in the forties.
The dark rhombus of a window of a train
rushing past my train. The dark halo
around the body of a woman I love
from something much farther than a distance.
The world is insatiable. It takes your legs off,
it takes your arms and parades in front of you
such wonderful things, such pictures of warm houses
trellised along the sides with green so deep
it is like black air, only transparent,
of women singing, of trains of lithium
on the awakening body of a landscape
or across the backdrop of an old city
steaming and high-shouldered as the nineteen-forties.
The world exhausts everything except my eyes
because it is a long walk to the world
begun before I was born. In the far corner
the dead woman bows off stage. The television
crumples into a white dot as the last
train of the evening, my train, is announced.
I lived in one place. I want to die in another.