The Year Before I Left For Mars

That night the moon’s song was
Cupped by the edge of the plane’s hum.
The beginning soundtrack for our last meeting.
Throughout it all, your breathing slighted the mourning.
We lay, as the loose sand soon hooked
Into the concave of our backs. The ocean waves
Undulating, marking between us, my fast breath.
There is another line here, but I’m not sure
Where to locate it. I could have
Looked at the moon, asked for forgiveness,
But like you, I searched for meteors instead.
You taught me what they look like,
By verbal description, by whispers, and pointing but
Characteristically, I kept missing them.
Because I’m not so good with language,
Nor instructions, and saying goodbye
Where the ground, sea, and sky meet and depart.
Listen: I’m clumsy with my hands and feet.
I also don’t know how to clean a microwave.
And I’m not sure what to say to you anymore.
But that night, before I left, I learned on my own,
Without telling you: This is how you find meteors.
You have to take in the entire dark sky, (like viewing a landscape painting or
A movie screen), but let the frame blanket over our bodies until nothing is left.
Watch carefully, because meteors
Disappear in a glimpse, into the slender cock of your neck,
In my short eyelash flutter.
One by one, then another.
By the end, we are greedy.
We stop counting
As we clasp our hands,
Gulp in the disappearing us, then
Suffocated, strayed.

Related Poems

Visit from Mars

Nostradamus generally predicted the
future but he also shined a clear
light into the past and lived to
regret some of the visions he had
because they weren’t precise enough
and could have been used for nefarious
thoughts or perilous judgments since,
after all, he was a prophet though
he could have been called a false
prophet in the sense that both
Ezekiel and Isaiah speak of them
though I have to say that
he predicted the visit from Mars, orchestrated
by Orson Welles in 1938
in the town of Grover’s Mill, near Princeton
where everyone seemed to turn on
the radio five, ten, minutes after the
show started including my father and
mother who were packing suitcases
for a quick ride to the bluff
and a cave my father knew from
his early years nor did he ever
forgive Orson Welles for the broadcast
and wouldn’t talk to me about Touch of
Evil—the greatest—nor Citizen Kane,
mostly a little boring though
if you were a film buff you could
study it forever especially if
you hated Hearst for all the good reasons.
Einstein himself was interviewed
while walking the mulberry streets, especially
the right-hand side of Great Road, going south,
where the houses are windy and overpriced,
and he was so full of denial that anyone
with a radio antenna sticking out of his head
had been seen in any diner or hardware store,
Einstein whose bushy face had rubbed
many a pair of reddened lips,
Einstein whose famous name they stole for bagels.

Panoramic View

Last week Mars suddenly got a lot closer.
It used to be the place we'd throw out
as impossible, utterly unreachable, so red
and foreign and sere. Not anymore.
And I'm trying to figure out why watching
the panorama makes something in the hot core
of me crumple like a swig-emptied can,
intoxicating though it may be, vibrant
with out-of-this-world color like the whole thing's
a sand painting, a dimensional mandala
some galactic monk took her sweet time pouring
freehand, blowing on it between sips of her tea,
ruffling up the most dramatic of its rumpled crests.
It's bluer than I thought, attained. Like most things
I wish we could take back.