Martius The corrugated iron gates are rolling down storefronts in paradise, late light flecks windows, rain's acid fingerprints. Motes float between iron and glass, sink into sanded pavements, weather's footprints, cracked mappa mundi: silk tea roses with a fringe of plastic fern; grapes, apples, and bananas ripened to painted wax: your eyes blinking away pollen in wind that says spring's coming, wait for me. Months sometimes it takes Aprilis lights scrolls across an unmade bed, we were setting out for Aries in paper planes (white dwarf stars bright in a wilderness of wish scatter white feathers among me, fistfuls of light): bees busied themselves with the seen, moment's multiple tasks, for the pollen, honey in the blood, bees would drown each day: from a thicket of nos to one sepaled blossoming, all in an afternoon you thought of bees as summer Maius This heliotrope gaze has fixed me in its sights (the turning solar year suffers in sudden rain, grazes my cold with vague waves, plashing particles, but lightly): lightly take this sky, bound up in so much loose light, light wind brushes chapped lips. Light-footed gods break open day to see what it contains: body survives light's inquisitions. Junius Beside the shale pigeons a dove color of old brick dust, the sound of brick dust settling: traffic noise rides heat-rise off wet streets, summer music echoes borrowed air: light centrifugal, sent scattering, lost later every day:some gold against bright water (handfuls scattered over lake), unnecessary, true candleland waning to wax and wick, silver water shattering like backed glass Quintilis When I was in Egypt, light fell instead of rain, congealed to grains of sand, pyramidal, uninterred. Uninterrupted waves of palms departed for shuddering oases. Why was it I spent centuries in that mirage, caravanserai of the sirocco stopped, pausing at reflection, also called the polished sky, and still no fall of shade? The light hung triangular, aslant, touched the colossus to song. Sextilis Wanting to understand, not wanting to understand, worried that by taking thought you lose it, by not taking, thought. Watching him run a hand through thin blond hair, passing at arm's length on a lunch hour street. Wondering is it good now, am I pleasure, and which part is it that I need, while air migrates too slowly to be seen and noon crawls groggy over August skin. Then thinking No, it's too and turning back to look at traffic. September Sudden storm, then sudden sun. Give me, I almost said: and stopped, began again with your voice, what gets invented by the I-can't-say-that-here. The afternoon of after rain dazzles with cloudlessness and a painful green set casually against blue: light mottled by fractal leaves freckles your outstretched arm, repeating apple, apple, apple, sour fruit and crabgrass. A damp T-shirt takes on that color, nothing will wash it out. I wear it for weeks. October doorway, flutter, moth or leaf in flight, in fall foyer, stammer of wind, a patter hovering, dust hushed or pressed to trembling glass, smut, soot, mutter of moth or withered stem, late haze, gray stutter crumpled, crushed, falter, fall, a tread ... November williwaw, brawl in air, shunt or sinew of wind shear blown off course, pewter skew vicinity, winnow and complicit sky preoccupied with grizzle, winter feed of lawns' snared weathervane, whey-faced day brume all afternoon of it (lead reticence of five o'clock) remnant slate all paucity and drift salt splay, slur and matte brink snow stammers against sidewalks December White light seen through the season's double window clouding the room reveals the roses' week-old gift of petals bruised purple-black. Dry paper falling on white cloth seconds the white room's wonder at cold sun flurried, crumbling stars compacted underfoot: lattice of fixed clarity, wintrish eidolon half patience, half at prayer.
"Roman Year," from Otherhood: Poems by Reginald Shepherd. Copyright © 2003 by Reginald Shepherd. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.