Letter Spoken in Wind

Today we walked the inlet Nybøl Nor
     remembering how to tread on frozen snow.
          Ate cold sloeberries

that tasted of wind—a white pucker—
     spat their sour pits in snow. Along
          the horizon, a line of windmills dissolved

into a white field. Your voice
     on the phone, a gesund auf dein keppele
          you blessed my head. Six months now

since I've seen you. There are
     traces of you here, your curls still dark
          and long, your woven dove,

the room you stayed in: send your syllables,
     I am swimming below the tidemark.
          Words shed overcoats, come

to me undressed, slender-limbed, they have no
     letters yet. It is the festival
          of lights, I have no

candles. I light one for each night,
     pray on a row
          of nine lighthouses.

Village of Pulleys and Locomotion

I trail my suitcase along the platform,
the weight of the air’s mechanism
at the small of my back. In the old country 

a man would arrive from afar, 
give each child a whistle, and parade them 
through the village, whistling.

What is this fury of forms, boarding trains, 
handing out whistles to children? 
Dear spigot, dear filtering film of rubber, 

if this world is the only world, 
Anaximander will go on shaking his sieve, 
persistently sifting with an ear to the ignition—

striker of matches, your scent of cloves, your fire 
rides the circumference and a vortex gyrates at the center. 
There is the vermiform signature: you may eat 

of this tree. Now the glorious propinquity, now 
the rupture. A village elder goes on debating 
with his god. Who can tell if he receives a reply?  

In the old stories, if you whistled, 
the light would come to you 
out of curiosity.

Related Poems

Love Poem from South China, 1999

The tropical infection traced
a map up my finger and standing
outside the Kunming Red
Cross Hospital, we watched this white

rabbit eat Christmas poinsettia
before we found the Doctor named Wen.
Registration for the operation cost 3 kuai 5
equivalent to twenty-seven cents. Dr.

Wen pointed two fresh, ready fingers
at his table and repeated (in English)
operation. After the lecture on pus
and abscess, you expressed nonchalance

at the sight of his knife, (he unwrapped
it, you said, optimistic) and I
whispered translations into the shirt
where I buried my face at your waist.

When Dr. Wen sliced the finger like tropical
fruit the leather taste spread
to the back of my mouth. Operation,
your belt, Chinese vocab abscess

operation, white rabbit, red plant. The day
went on outside, and when I
noticed it again hours later, I had stopped
screaming, The bandages were just

gauzy hotel curtains, angels
in fluttering light. When I rolled
from the shadows of hospital shock,
you introduced me to
my finger. Gored and masked
criminal bandit! Escaped from the red
cross, you said: Finger X. Read
a passage from Our Man

In Havana. Yes, China, Havana
nary a trauma; we double wrapped the
digit’s disguise with a plastic shower
cap and swam off the coast

of Hainan. But just to be safe, you carried
me through the water
with my hand raised like a torch
above the waves.