Ich glaube an Nächte

Watching the garden winter under the moon, 
we think of the brown animals
under the earth. Or the bulbs 
of the jonquils frozen there 
with their orange eyes clenched in coils.
White and silent night, the air cold as iron 
and the lake like an old woman under a blanket. 
We gave your grandma marijuana tea 
to lull the cancer clenched in her like fists.

Our legs are weak after making love 
but we walk across the solid lake. 
We're wrapped in the husk of a Bay blanket, 
the air smells like wool and our heat 
billows around us, animal. The lake 
clicks as we walk, a photograph 
curling up at the edges. Far under
hibernating fish drift in the current, 
their bodies curving back and forth, 
while above them the moon 
glows on the snowless patches--
a white heart expanding under the ice. 
And in our blanket, our bodies 
hold the shapes of the people 
whose cells we slept in for generations.


The gorse-edged trail, the path up through sheep laurel and sedge
by the lake, and then up again through the meadow and remnants
of orchard and mill. Nine-months pregnant, you leaned back 
into shadow under a russet-thick apple tree, then on after that 
to the edge of the pine forest, the signs promising
a circle back to the parking lot. Still later, a steel bridge brought us 
over the river, the water bursting against the mesh-encased blocks 
buttressing the tracks that once went to Waterford and Kitchener, 
and here there was another road and we were lost. We'd arrived this way 
in another summer, and gone down to water. I remembered that time--
I didn't know if I loved, or was loved, but now that felt like the past.

Climbing to the road, gleaming and ravenous, you fell into a café chair,
I went back for the car. Over the river, the bridge, ancestral memory
of a train going past, a hint of doubt, then forest, then meadow, running
because the baby could come at any time. Then orchard and mill, and why
did I stop to look at the old stones, the dead shapes close
to the ground saying something about what they'd been used for? Why
did I lie down where you had, now the sky different, the light different? Although
the flowing reek of apples was the same, the flattened shape 
in the grass. It was as if that old other part of my life was over, 
and I was here to remember it, the way we'd been. Like that dead family 
who ground grain here and fed carrots to the horses, and turned 
that great wheel we thought probably fit into a groove in the side 
of one of the crushed walls, and baked, and made love, and there was 
no city below them, and nothing above them but the sky and its gods.

December 1998