Last Night We Saw South Pacific

- 1935-

I wake to see a cardinal in our white
          crape myrtle. My eye aches. Bees celebrate
morning come with their dynamo-hum
                    around a froth of bloom.

Though presently it’s paradise for the bees,
          noon will reach ninety-nine degrees.
Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’ hui
                    will stultify hope in ennui.

I watched Raging Planet on TV.
          Earth’s orbit around the sun appears
to alter every hundred thousand years.
                    Each thirty million years,

mass extinctions attend Earth’s
          traverse of the galactic plane.
The asteroid rain that cratered the moon
                    returns, brings species’ deaths.

In the Hudson Bay region of Quebec,
          the Laurentide ice sheet
only a geological eye-blink
                    ago lay two miles thick.

Disasters preceded us, like violent parents.
          Pangaea’s fragmenting land mass
drowned origins like lost Atlantis:
                    an enigma for consciousness.

These continents will re-collide
          in their rock-bending tectonic dance,
as once before Tyrannosaurus died.
                    So change continues by chance,

as if meaningless—granite to sand,
          sand to sandstone, sandstone to sand.
In five billion years, the sun will expand,
                    to Venus and Mars, then end

planet Earth. The hydrangea blooms
          its dry blue, burns a brown lavender.
Earth whirls in space and August comes—
                    this slanted light my calendar.

As I water the pink phlox, I wonder
          what use there is for a world of matter—
why the universe exploding into being invents
                    night and star-incandesence?

We are the part of it that feels it,
          thinks it, seeing this time in its slant
on bloom with our physical brains that
                    change it as they sense it.

We become. We hum a story as tune,
          in sonata form that runes this sphinx-
riddle sequence as notes that the pharynx
                    fluctuates, to mean.

So “This Nearly Was Mine” assuages,
          braced against old loss and war.
Emile de Becque sounds rich with knowledge
                    of children and love, before.

Interstate Highway

for our daughter, Lisa

As on a crowded Interstate the drivers in boredom 
      or irritation speed ahead or lag (taken with sudden
enthusiasms for seventy-five), surging ahead a little by 
                  weaving between lanes but still

staying	pretty much even, so too the seeker in language 
      ranges ahead and behind--exiting and rejoining
a rushing multitude so closely linked that,
                  if seen from above, from the height

of the jet now descending, we present one 
      stasis of lights: feeling our freedom though
when seen from above, in the deepening twilight, 
                  the pattern we bead is constant.

So we have traveled in time, lying down and waking 
      together, moved illusions, each cubicle with
tables and chairs, beds where our cries arose 
                  lost in the surging engines.

Yet the	roomlight where we made our love 
      still cubes us in amber. Out of the averaging
likeness, Pavlovian salivation at the bell
                  of a nipple, our lives extract their

time-thread, our gospel-truth. While Holiday 
      Inn and Exxon populate the stretch
between Washington and Richmond with lights, 
                  I rewrite our pasts in this present:

recalling your waking, dear wife, to find
      a nipple rosier, we not yet thinking a child
though impossibly guessing her features
                  the feathery, minutely combed lashes

the tiny perfect nails, though not yet
      the many later trees at Christmas. Now
I know only backwardly, inscribing these sign-
                  ings that fade as the ink dries.

Remembering the graphlike beading of darkness,
      I recall the ways that time once gave us-- 
distracted by signs for meals and clothing,
                  travelers, heavy with ourselves

defining the gift that bodies carry,
      lighting the one, inner room, womb for
our daughter. Seeing from above, I read
                  this love our child embodies.