Dreaded season when light’s too long too soon,
winter turns to you before its work is done.
Along with snowdrops, forsythia, anemone,
along with tulips breaking out of their bulbs,
comes the long memory of the fatal spring
when I was thirty-three and my love wasn’t there,
had gone without waiting and said she’d return,
but winter’s work done, was still gone.
Absence stronger than flowers, steaming in sun,
poisoned the season, buried morbid winter
and filled imagined summer with vapors. Light,
light spring drifts in like a feather
used for torture, its touch
too much and not enough.
On the sweated window in the hot room
where the dancers have sweated and left the floor bare,
are the black curves and spaces shadows of the hanging plant’s
trailing stems and leaves? are the black trails
only the aftermath of luminous sweat still coursing down
as host and hostess get up to dance,
or have the children been at it with their fingers
and should I write too,
and in what language? Read it in the dust
tomorrow. The bead of shining water
cuts through the watery flesh of its fellows.
The lovers dance, the wounded line the walls;
man moving body, trusting feet, arms, even belly
to the woman whose nervousness
survives invisible to him: in her short nails
and her shaded knowing that she’s trusted him fully
just because in his innocence
he does not see the magnitude of her risk.
But who cuts flesh most easily,
the one who sees how soft it is,
or the one who never guesses its fragility
so foreign is the thought of doing harm?
It’s too much to watch, and
I go into the next room and lie down on the pile of coats on the bed.
Every time I rip a page from the pad or sneeze
the cat jumps, membranes offended.
There’s a large cymbal on the wall,
Italian music is playing
and people are clapping,
and a couple comes and says I’m on their coats.
An abacus, a pipe, an old wooden tripod.
Two maps of the same country, from different times,
both old. Pictures of the kids, next to the camera.
A woman I haven’t talked to yet
is looking for her coat. “What’s your accent?”
“Spanish,” she says. “From
A thin silver belt, a thin silver belt
cuts through this life,
whose waist is only flesh, only water.