the moon might rise and it might not and if it brings a ghost light we will read beneath it and if it returns to earth we will listen for its phrases and if I'm alone at the bedside table I will have a ghost book to refer to and when I lie back I'll see its imprint beneath my blood-red lids: not lettered ink but the clean page not sugar but the empty bowl not flowers but the dirt * blame the egg blame the fractured stones at the bottom of the mind blame his darkblue glare and craggy mug the bulky king of trudge and stein how I love a masculine in my parlor his grizzly shout and weight one hundred drums in this everywhere of blunt and soft sinking I am the heavy hollow snared the days are spring the days are summer the days are nothing and not dead yet * worry the river over its banks the train into flames worry the black rain into the city the troops into times square worry the windows cracked acidblack and the children feverblistered worry never another summer never again to live here gentle with the other inhabitants then leave too quickly leave the pills and band-aids the bathroom scale the Christmas lights the dog go walking on our legs dense and bare and useless worry our throats and lungs into taking the air leave books on the shelves leave keys dustpan telephones don't work where you were in the chaos * and I couldn't bear it the children nearing the place where the waves wet the shore vaporous force rising imperceptibly behind we were talking about circumstance horizon-gates swinging open beneath the cherry blooms wave rising in the background impalpable and final a girl in a white dress barefoot wasn't I right to ask her to move in from the shore * this is the last usable hour bird lured through the window a little sweet fruit I could die here and the hearsedriver would take me out of this city I'd say my name to him as we crossed the Triboro I'd say it softly the way he likes it it would be the last time I'd introduce myself that way
At night, down the hall into the bedroom we go.
In the morning we enter the kitchen.
Places, please. On like this,
without alarm. I am the talker and taker
he is the giver and the bedroom man.
We are out of order but not broken.
He says, let's make this one short.
She says, what do you mean?
We set out and got nearer.
Along the way some loved ones died.
Whole summers ruined that way.
Take me to the door, take me in your arms.
Mother's been dead a decade
but her voice comes back to me now and often.
Life accumulates, a series of commas,
first this, then that, then him, then here.
A clump of matter (paragraph)
and here we are: minutes, years.
Wait, I am trying to establish
something with these people.
Him, her, him. We make a little pantomime.
Family, I say, wake up. The sentences
one then another one, in a line. And then
we go on like that, for a long time.
|About this poem:|
"'Domestic' is part of a new manuscript, The Uses of the Body, which explores themes of gender, desire, marriage, monogamy, mortality (subjects I've written about previously) as well as pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood (subjects I've been reluctant to explore in poetry for fear of risking sentimentality). Although this material may seem familiar, I feel compelled to find fresh language, form, and syntax that can capture the immense strangeness of these experiences. This poem ('Domestic') comes at the end of a long sequence about marriage and domestic life."