It's so quiet now the children have decided to stop
being born. We raise our cups in an empty room.
In this light, the curtains are transparent as gauze.
Through the open window we hear nothing—
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city's traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.
The brick school at the five points crosswalk
is drenched in morning glory.
Its white flowers are trumpets
festooning this coastal town.
Will the eventual forest rise up
and remember our footsteps? Already
seedlings erupt through cement,
crabgrass heaves through cracked marble,
already wolves come down from the hills
to forage among us. We are like them now,
just another species looking to the stars
and howling extinction.
They say the body accepts any kind of sorrow,
that our ancestors lay down on their stomachs
in school hallways, as children they lay down
like matches waiting for a nuclear fire.
It wasn't supposed to end like this:
all ruin and beauty, vines waterfalling down
a century's architecture; it wasn't supposed to end
so quietly, without fanfare or fuss,
a man and woman collecting rain
in old coffee tins. Darling,
the wars have been forgotten.
These days our quarrels are only with ourselves.
Tonight you sit on the edge of the bed loosening your shoes.
The act is soundless, without future
weight. Should we name this failure?
Should we wake to the regret at the end of time
doing what people have always done
and say it was not enough?
From Ruin and Beauty by Patricia Young. Copyright © 2000 by Patricia Young. Reprinted by permission of House of Anansi Press. All rights reserved.
The world seems so palpable And dense: people and things And the landscapes They inhabit or move through. Words, on the other hand, Are so abstract—they’re Made of empty air Or black scratches on a page That urge us to utter Certain sounds. And us: Poised in the middle, aware Of the objects out there Waiting patiently to be named, As if the right words Could save them. And don’t They deserve it? So much hidden inside each one, Such a longing To become the beloved. And inside us: the sounds That could extend that blessing— How they crowd our mouths, How they press up against Our lips, which are such A narrow exit for a joy so desperate.
You have to walk so close to the mirror Before your breath clouds the image You need to get a running start You need to get a running start To break through the refrain into repetition As exile's continuous form forms the same Words twice thrush thrush Drab bird unseen in the dark dark's underbrush Sung from the yeasty mouth * From within the cloud the voice sings The voice is a singing cloud You have to walk so close to breath Before you find the mirror And then beginning looks just like Beginning looks just like What doesn't know how to complete itself Otherwise What is there in saying house bridge fountain * bridge fountain gate jug jug fruit-tree window there I said them All and every all's this same Cloud's faulty tower is this same Cloud's broken column trying to make a point About breath by mentioning breath I stand so close to the surface of the thing I am dumb because I make myself dumb And then the apples go mute * Jug jug Make no noise Who will find you in the middle of your breath And keep whole all you want broken Someone becomes Someone again it must be done Mouth scaring bird from its ever more hidden nest A surface seems to know something about Depth depth cannot know about itself * Right toward the mirror Watch it fly as sometimes it does fly Breath and every cloud The sky has gotten a running start It's why the apples ripen even though they hurt The sky's running start Let panic return and stand very still You have to stand very still Before what is wounded turns around and nears * A note plays in the dark Plays all by itself in the dark just a note Just a note called escape What I'm telling you is what I cannot say Otherwise this Intimate breath is just another maze The sun disappears Inside the apple I mean there is a mirror In a cloud and right there is your answer
Copyright © 2012 by Dan Beachy-Quick. Used with permission of the author.