Outliving the Lyric Moment

Angel and muse escape with violin and compass; the duende wounds.
                                         —Federico García Lorca

I didn't expect to escape.  I've stepped out of planes
into Madrid and Bangkok, Prague and Seoul,
each time a solo in a world that was, if not cruel,
supremely indifferent to the fact of my breath. 

I loved where I could, did not imagine my mouth
without light, fish at home in my bluest wells.
I went in a stalk of pure wanting that knows
there's no getting, and collected tiny lemons

of joy when they ripened in reach of a window
in Vence where I happened also on tangles
of grapes fallen and trodden on the road to the sea.
I plucked green stones from Spanish sand, wore

the white hibiscus for a day behind my ear
where it softened with rot in a pattern of etch.
In Andalusia the wine is new and ruby, breath
and aroma the tools of being in places where days

are paid out like so many queens on obsolete
coins.  Now, not suddenly, but after long balance
of what there is against what might or might never be,
the never-was has dared to love me back.

So it was death all along who stood in the ferry
with his dirty blonde hair and bright nylon pack,
but I never imagined he'd be so young
as he slung the pack, leapt to the shore

and never looked back for me.  That's why
my flesh loves me today.  There are salt and heat
and a body of bread, new if not endless, and a rumor
if not news of the future.  It dies as it lived, the idea

of duende, a proximity, a song we don't necessarily
need in a land of snow and icy green lakes where
the weather's a tomb and the lover's strong thigh
is white and marvelous as marble, a throne

on which I suppose I could sit and grow handsomely old.

Copyright © 2007 by Leslie Adrienne Miller. Reprinted from The Resurrection Trade with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.