Sunbreak. The sky opens its magazine. If you look hard it is a process of falling and squinting—& you are in- terrupted again and again by change, & crouchings out there where you are told each second you are only visiting, & the secret whitening adds up to no meaning, no, not for you, wherever the loosening muscle of the night startles-open the hundreds of thousands of voice-boxes, into which your listening moves like an aging dancer still trying to glide—there is time for everything, everything, is there is not— though the balance is difficult, is coming un- done, & something strays farther from love than we ever imagined, from the long and orderly sentence which was a life to us, the dry leaves on the fields through which the new shoots glow now also glowing, wet curled tips pointing in any direction— as if the idea of a right one were a terrible forgetting—as one feels upon waking—when the dream is cutting loose, is going back in the other direction, deep inside, behind, no, just back—& one is left looking out—& it is breaking open further—what are you to do—how let it fully in—the wideness of it is staggering—you have to have more arms eyes a thing deeper than laughter furrows more capacious than hate forgiveness remembrance forgetfulness history silence precision miracle—more furrows are needed the field cannot be crossed this way the wide shine coming towards you standing in the open window now, a dam breaking, reeking rich with the end of winter, fantastic weight of loam coming into the soul, the door behind you shut, the great sands behind there, pharaohs, the millennia of carefully prepared and buried bodies, the ceremony and the weeping for them, all back there, lamentations, libations, earth full of bodies everywhere, our bodies, some still full of incense, & the sweet burnt offerings, & the still-rising festival out-cryings—& we will inherit from it all nothing—& our ships will still go, after the ritual killing to make the wind listen, out to sea as if they were going to a new place, forgetting they must come home yet again ashamed no matter where they have been—& always the new brides setting forth— & always these ancient veils of their falling from the sky all over us, & my arms rising from my sides now as if in dictation, & them opening out from me, & me now smelling the ravens the blackbirds the small heat of the rot in this largest cage—bars of light crisping its boundaries— & look there is no cover, you cannot reach it, ever, nor the scent of last night's rain, nor the chainsaw raised to take the first of the far trees down, nor the creek's tongued surface, nor the minnow turned by the bottom of the current—here is an arm outstretched, then here is rightful day and the arm is still there, outstretched, at the edge of a world—tyrants imagined by the bearer of the arm, winds listened for, corpses easily placed anywhere the mind wishes—inbox, outbox—machines that do not tire in the distance—barbed wire taking daysheen on—marking the end of the field—the barbs like a lineup drinking itself crazy—the wire where it is turned round the post standing in for mental distress—the posts as they start down the next field sorting his from mine, his from the other's—until you know, following, following, all the way to the edge and then turning again, then again, to the far fields, to the height of the light—you know you have no destiny, no, you have a wild unstoppable rumor for a soul, you look all the way to the end of your gaze, why did you marry, why did you stop to listen, where are your fingerprints, the mud out there hurrying to the white wood gate, its ruts, the ants in it, your imagination of your naked foot placed there, the thought that in that there is all you have & that you have no rightful way to live—
From Sea Change by Jorie Graham, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2008 by Jorie Graham. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Jorie Graham was born in New York City on May 9, 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor.
Date Published: 2008-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/nearing-dawn