Tomorrow is a Place

for Maya

We meet at a coffee shop. So much time has passed and who is time? Who is waiting by the windowsill? We make plans to go to a museum but we go to a bookshop instead. We’re leaning in, learning how to talk to each other again. I say, I’m obsessed with my grief and she says, I’m always in mourning. She laughs and it’s an extension of her body. She laughs and it moves the whole room. I say, My home is an extension of my body and she says, Most days are better with a long walk. The world moves without us—so we tend to a garden, a graveyard, a pot on the windowsill. Death is a comfort because it says, Transform but don’t hurry. There is a tenderness to growing older and we are listening for it. Steadier ways to move through the world and we are learning them. A way to touch your own body. A touch that says, Dig deeper. There, in the ground, there is our memory. I am near enough my roots. Time is my friend. Tomorrow is a place we are together.

Related Poems

Aging

Aging. Being in pain. Finishing. Rotting.
              —Emmanuel Fournier


We feel we’ve contracted into very dim, very old white dwarf stars, not yet black holes. Wrinkled, but not quite withered. Dropped out of summer like a stone, we watch time fall. With the leaves. Into a deeper color. Wavelengths missing in the reflected light.
 

The road toward rotting has been so long. We forget where we are going. Like a child, I look amazed at a thistle. Or drink cheap wine and hug my knees. To shorten the shadow? To ward off letting go?
 

So much body now, to be cared for. What with the arrow, lost cartilage, skeleton within. Memory no longer holds up. A bridge to theory and dreams. Impervious to vertigo. Days are long and too spacious.
 

Though the sun is a mere eight light-minutes away elderly dust hangs. Over the long sentences I wrote in the last century. Now thoughts in purpose tremor, in lament, in search of. Not being too soon? Going to be? Unconformities separating strata of decay?
 

You say aimlessness has its virtues. Just as not fully understanding may be required for harmony. And blow your nose. You sing fast falls the eventide, damp on the skin, with bitter wind. And here it is again, the craving for happiness that night induces. Or the day of marriage.
 

The difference of our bodies makes for different velocities. But gravity is always attracting, and my higher speed. Cannot outrun the inner fright we seem made of. Though I gesticulate broadly. As in a silent movie. Running after the train, waving goodbye.
 

Distant galaxies are moving away from us. Friends, lovers, family. Even the sky shifts toward red. Where every clearness is only. A more welcoming slope of the night. And I don't remember why I opened the door.
 

Mouth full of moans, you believe the natural state. Is a body at rest. And close your eyes to the threat of your face disappearing. Without thought or emotion. Into its condition. And I thought I knew you.
 

Are the complications thinning to a final simplicity? The nearest thing to a straight path in curved space? Clouds of gas slowly collapsing? With only one possible outcome? But unlike a black hole I keep my hair on. As I move toward the unquestionable dark.
 

This dark, Mrs. Ramsay thinks, is perhaps the core of every self. The deep note of existence the ear finds, but cannot hold on to. Across the vicissities of the symphony. Or else this dark could be our shelter in the time of long dominion. And though we are not well suited to the perspectives it opens it is an awesome thing to see. Once you can see it.

spring love noise and all [excerpt]

            but i wondered what i would talk about      because
 here in southern california youre never really sure when
spring begins      i mean the experience of spring      the
 vernal equinox is one thing      but spring is something else
      and ive been living out here twenty years and i cant
 always tell when its spring
                                    my guess is it comes on some time
 in late february      and you hardly notice it      a few branch
  ends turn yellow a few wildflowers begin to sprout an 
occasionally different bird appears      and you figure it
 might as well be spring

            now thats a little different from springs i
 remember where i came from      in the east when its spring
      boy are you ready for it      if you lived in new york
 city or upstate new york about 130 miles north of the city
      the way you'd know spring was coming was that around the
end of march you'd hear rolls of thunder or cannonades that
  would mean the ice was breaking on the river you'd say gee
it must be spring the ice is breaking on the river      and it
 was like a series of deep distant drum rolls
  brrrrrrrrrrmbrrrrrrrrrrrm      and you didn't feel much
better about it      because the sky was still gray and cold
 and the trees were still bare

            in fact you felt better in january because the snow
seemed to keep you warm especially when the temperature got
 down around zero and the snow was piled up around the house
and along the roadside      because after every snow the snow
  ploughs would clear out the road and pile up the snow along
 the roadside into a wall from six to ten feet high that
 would shield the houses from the wind and you'd shovel out a 
pathway to the street      but inside it was warm      and pretty
  much everybody in this little town of north branch felt
 insulated and warm and pretty good in january as long as the
  heating fuel held out      and they didn't feel too bad in
february either

            but when the spring came      in march      and you
 heard the dull cannonade on the river      thats when you
started to feel bad      because it had been so cold and bare
 and gray      and you had been holding out so long for the
wild mustard and the goldfinches      and maybe the coming of
 the quince      that the sound coming off the river      that
  seemed to promise an entry into the land of the hearts
 desire      which you knew would take another month at least
      made you feel real bad

            so thats why when the spring came to north branch at
the end of march      it seemed that every year two people would
 hang themselves off their back porch      because they couldn't
  wait anymore

      but there was the other side of spring and you
expected great things of it      because you had read all those
 marvelous sweet and jingling poems by those provençal
bullshitters waiting for spring to come so they could go out
 into the fields and fuck and kill people      brash and noise
poems that went on as i remember something like "oh spring is
 here the birds are singing lets go out and fight some
  battles and make it in the grass" in a cheerful jingling and
 very overrated way
                             that my friend paul blackburn did the best
 he could with      which was to bury the jingle and jazz up the
noise a bit      to make them sound a little bit like ezra
 pound and a little bit like paul doing an east village macho
  number      and a lot better than they sound to my ears in
 provençal      and with poetic generosity he covered up the
banality of their vocabulary and their tedious ideas if you
 could call their attitudes ideas and it all sounded so
cheerful that we thought it must have been a good idea to sit
 in toulouse and welcome the spring

            but dont you believe it      toulouse is a dreadful
place and nobody wants to be there      everyone in toulouse
 would rather be in paris      so if you have a choice about
the spring you dont want to spend it in toulouse
                                                             paul actually 
 lived there for a while      and he was always running off to
paris or mallorca or to spain

            but wherever you are you are likely to have this
idea of what it means for spring to come      and you know how
 it will come and when it will come      because in your
expectations it always comes      in a neat order the way
  seasons do      because there are exactly four of them and
they are very nicely named and there are exactly three months
 in them and they very obediently follow the astronomical year

Healthy Smiths

Every few months my friend and I get together
to talk about “what we’re doing” vis-à-vis
“the perceived goal of our dual attempt
to become masters of wordsmithing
in the face of insurmountable opposition.”
This is what I’m doing, we say,
compared to this person we don’t know
who does something similar
and is wildly more successful than us.
Powdered lips and lip powder
are quite the opposite
to anyone who’s ever powdered their lips
or shaved flakes off of their lips
in that great and violent kitchen of our beings.
Is it true, we wonder. Are our life-fates locked
aside from random pratfall, victim
of crime or illness? In twenty years
you’ll look back at this moment and go,
“whoa, weird,” but you’ll feel the same way
you feel now as you stare into the crisp,
dark city and say to yourself,
“whoa, weird.” I’m just trying
to get through this like the rest of us,
you used to think, with dextrose, maltodextrin,
malic acid, calcium stearate, carnauba wax,
blue 2, red 40, yellow 5,
less than 2% corn syrup and possibly egg
on my tongue. Who knows what could happen
to my lips. They could be powdered, shaved,
or ripped completely off my face
in one, impressive motion.