What the Silence Said

Do you still believe in borders now?  

Birds soar over your maps and walls, and always have.     

You might have watched how the smoke from your own fires  

travelled on wind you couldn’t see    

                                            wafting over the valley

and up and over the hills and over the next valley and the next hill.

 

Did you not hear the animals howl and sing?   

Or hear the silence of the animals no longer singing?   

Now you know what it is to be afraid.  

You think this is a dream?  It is not

a dream.    You think this is a theoretical question?  

What do you love more than what you imagine is your singular life?   

The water grows clearer.  The swans settle and float there.    

 

Are you willing to take your place in the forest again?    to become loam and bark

to be a leaf falling. from a great height.  to be the worm who eats the leaf

and the bird who eats the worm?    Look at the sky: are you

willing to be the sky again?  

 

                                              You think this lesson is 

too hard for you    You want the time-out to end.  You want

to go to the movies as before, to sit and eat with your friends.

It can end now, but not in the way you imagine    You know

the mind that has been talking to you for so long—the mind that

can explain everything?    Don’t listen.
 

You were once a citizen of a country called I Don’t Know.

Remember the burning boat that brought you there?   Climb in.

After the Movie

My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
He says that he believes a person can love someone
and still be able to murder that person.

I say, No, that's not love. That's attachment.
Michael says, No, that's love. You can love someone, then come to a day

when you're forced to think "it's him or me"
think "me" and kill him.

I say, Then it's not love anymore.
Michael says, It was love up to then though.

I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.
Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist even in the
     murderous heart.

I say that what he might mean by love is desire.
Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what is it?

We're walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded night—and I hear my voice
repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action, I used to say
     to him.

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to look at
     someone you want to eat and not eat them.

Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.

Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are doomed to
     live in purgatory.

Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.
I can't drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I've just bought—

again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck the stuff from
the hole the flip top made.

What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.
But what I think he's saying is "You are too strict. You are
     a nun."

Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things
     of me even if he's not thinking them?

Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer and colder.
Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,

we both know the winter has only begun.

Part of Eve's Discussion

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,
and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still
and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when
a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you
your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like
the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,
it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only
all the time.

The Moment

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment

when,   nothing 

happens 

no what-have-I-to-do-today-list 


maybe   half a moment  

the rush of traffic stops.  

The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be 

slows to silence,

the white cotton curtains hanging still.