by Bradley Harrison
—after Wordsworth
You stand awake in daylight’s frame: you pull
clothes over your body: you look at me
& with your simple fingers smooth the swaths
of Barcelona’s thoughts: heavy autumn
falls across us, braided slow into
our dawning season: bold, bright corduroy
of sunrise, thighs I touch unthinkingly
beneath the mountain leaning over us:
as close in this world we can get to another.
walked up the mountain with one man & you 
came down with another. This is always 
the way with men. This is always the way 
with mountains, with you. There is the pilgrimage 
into the clouds of unknowing: the breathlessness
of narrow air: there is the learning one
another, the intoxication of
all things early: the way she stands against
a skyline & fidgets with her hands: or when
the man reads a poem aloud but like
a secret & so silences the tram:
& how the colors run from a thousand
open windows in El Born, Las Ramblas, 
in the thousand-year-old alleys they feel
themselves into the foreign bonework of old 
friends’ hands held new in the Barrio Gotico:
balconies of wind & rooftop bunking 
underneath the blanket of the city 
lights against the cloud-clot shifting pinkish-
orange & they try to stay like that entangled 
in the airport: awkward at first as ducklings
before they wander dizzy into chairs
& lean to breathe within each other’s breath: 
two lives collapsed into a single moment. 
You’d waited for me in a Viennese evening
obligatory gorgeous, a tiny bit
miraculous, haloed in houselights & so
I set out to find you: to mingle my radical
scatters with yours. I parked my car beneath
a waterfall of leaves: I stowed my life
in a single boat & row to you across
whatever waters buoy distance between 
us: & will you meet me in the field
of Spanish olives, at the world’s soft fold,
midway between the star-strung ends of our
black-water globe, that together we might 
build a cathedral of breath, & when I come
I come to worship not you but inside you:
stained glass at night lit from within: a house
of images.
He says the mountain is
the universal symbol for that than which
nothing greater can be conceived. She says
this is a hazy truth or else a shining
lie. In its exposure to, he says,
the elemental, the mountain lends itself
to the monastic. Which is to say: to climb 
a mountain is to renounce the world so as 
to engage it more purely: & with a human body. 
He tries too hard, she thinks. Wasn’t held enough 
as a child. She grows tired of this, loves him madly. 
We met one morning in Troy, & we knew the ships
‘d been loosed: three years ago almost to this
moment I write from nowhere particularly
important to lovely you somewhere in the water
hemisphere where you’re threading your novel
in my windy tomorrow & I sit here drinking
coffee in your past: & the secret, I think, 
to killing this distance is collapse. Dante
implies we’re already up, well, somewhere, here. 
& sure it gets worse for a while, but I think the point’s 
that love’s not entombed in time, or needn’t be,
if we can learn to live like poets. Not
that hell’s nothing, or else the kind of thing
you could walk around instead of through, 
it’s just that when you name the past you kill 
it, sure, but you also for a moment
let it rise & take to flame within
the lucid present. Let’s build a secret chapel 
only you and I will know the door to,
& the password is this poem plus
every other poem, & that the threshold
is the chapel is the secret we will 
keep beneath a love in fathoms of feelings 
& seasons: we’ll sweep away mundane debris 
beneath the monastery ceiling where
at times we’ll weep our eyes wide, terrified
to life, leaning into one another 
mid the din of passing strangers. Will we 
be shy when we come down? Will we forget
the earthquake-hold it had on us when first 
we felt the blast, or else apologize
to the cracked-wide sky when the downpour drops chaos
on us? That we made it watch us fuck while the wind 
picked up & the walls fell apart in our fingers? Gaudi’s
stations of the cross toward Montserrat:
carved into rocks; fourteen stops; a sonnet 
without a turn. Numbers are the language
of death, & there is truth in repetition,
the opposite of recollection: wipes clean 
the film that preserves and thereby distances 
the past. But this: the gospel truth: to see 
the crucifixion in yourself & not
turn back: to walk to the ledge & out past it
up here, where your hair moves indefinitely, 
& where I’ll be as long as you will bleed
your paper heart & let me read it to 
the trees however far they sway beneath 
us: to see it all in conflagration
& move in the direction of what makes
the burning brightest. 
Words, at best, tie strings
to kites & hope for frequency: that tension 
might acquire a key & sing to what 
the wind might mean to, say, lovers hovered 
helplessly at mountain heights: two friends who
shared a city once & didn’t know it:
who stood possibly (though this part is un-
likely) in the same public library 
& maybe, he says, you were standing one day
on one side of the shelf while I was on
the other, & maybe, she says, to humor him,
something passed between us & we’ve travelled
all these years to pass it back. Yes, he says, 
& all the lights flickered. Okay, she says, 
the lights flicker, & they do, in a way: 
everything’s the same: utterly changed. 
We had no city so we built one from 
a stack of letters, Brahms played slow over
a patchwork of blue hours, the sky a bit of sleet
so when we wake the world’s englazed & held
undriven, dead-beautiful, transparent:
everything we see just as it had been
only glowing. City built from all we
had & wanted & our having wanted
it. From the patient eyes required to gaze down
a horizon in the City of Take-
Still I thought we would be more together than this. 
We hurt one another: we buck love’s weight. 
We sulk & feel sorry, creatures of weather.
Meanwhile our love tumbles in the wind
across a beach somewhere: the answer to
questions we never know the words to ask.
Let’s be kind to one another. Truth moves
toward what is open, only slowly, just
as waters carry mountains out to sea
through the city we build & wake up to
together: Our City of Mystic Collapse,
where space & time are broken open &
it all begins to bleed together: where
your hand becomes my hand: my lips are yours:
Barcelona becomes Wellington,
Columbia: the blur of then & now
& here we are, & there is time enough
for us to learn to raise ourselves anew 
each day in the past-stained light & find our lives
transfigured in the sometimes-boring hurtle 
toward our something like an ever after.