THE TRAVELING COMPANION
Your mother’s soul hovers over the bow.
Your mother’s soul helps you circumnavigate the night, reef after reef.
Your mother’s soul drives the sharks on before her.
This word is your mother’s bond.
Your mother’s bond apportions your store, stone after stone.
Your mother’s bond makes obeisance to the luminary crumb.
You tall poplars – people of this earth!
You pools of black happiness, you mirror them to death!
I saw you, sister, standing in that luster.
SPEAK, YOU ALSO
You speak too,
say your piece.
but don’t split no from yes.
And give your speech this meaning:
give it the shadows.
Give it shadows enough,
give it as many
as you know have been dealt between
midnight and noon and midnight.
Look, how lively it is around here –
where death is! Lively!
They speak true, who speak shadows.
But now the place where you stand is shrinking:
Where will you go now, denuded by shadows?
Climb. Grope upwards.
You grow thinner, harder to recognize, finer.
Finer: a thread
on which it wants to be lowered – the star:
so that it can float down,
down to where it sees itself shining: in the swell
of wandering words.
There will be another eye,
a strange one, beside
our own: dumb
under its stony lid.
Come, bore your lookout hole.
There will be an eyelash
turned inwards in the rock,
steeled by the unwept,
the finest of spindles.
Before your face it does its work,
as if there were, because stone is, still brothers.
Snowfall, thicker and thicker
dove-colors, as yesterday,
snowfall, as if you were still asleep.
Stretching away, heaped white.
Upon it, endlessly,
sledge track of the lost.
Under it, concealed,
hump themselves up,
what so hurt the eyes,
hill upon hill,
fetched home into its today,
an I turned to wood,
a dumb stake.
There: an apprehension,
wailed over by the icy wind,
fastens its dove-, its snow-
WITH LETTER AND CLOCK
to hide unwritten things
saves your name
by sealing it up.
Do you come now, floating light?
Fingers, waxen too,
pulled through strange,
melting away the tips.
Do you come, floating light?
Empty of time, the clock’s honeycomb,
bridal of the swarm,
ready to go.
Floating light, come.
UNDER A PICTURE
Wheat billow swarmed by ravens.
Which heaven’s blue? The lower? Upper?
Later shaft that from the soul sped.
Stronger buzzing. Nearer glimmer. Both worlds.
We are near, Lord,
near, at hand.
Already taken care of, Lord,
clawing into one another as though
the body of each of us were
your body, Lord.
pray for us,
we are near.
Wind-twisted we went there
went there to bend
to the trough, to the crater.
To the fosse we went, Lord.
It was blood; it was
what gushed from you, Lord.
It cast your word into our eyes, Lord.
Eyes and mouth gaped open so wide, Lord.
We have drunk, Lord.
The Blood and the word that was in the blood, Lord.
We are near.
EYE OF TIME
This is the eye of time:
under seven-hued brows.
Its lid is washed by fire.
Its tears are steam.
The blind star flies toward it
and melts at the hot lash:
it grows warm in the world,
and the dead
sprout and bloom.
Stone in the air, which I track.
Your eye, blind as a rock.
How were there
we dipped the darkness empty, we found
the word that summer tended:
Flower – word of the blind.
Your eye and my eye:
they take care
Wall upon wall
leafs around the heart.
Another word like that and
hammers swing away.
Round eyes between the bars.
lets go a glance.
Iris, swimming girl, dreamless film:
the heavens, heart-gray, must be near.
Walleyed in the iron socket,
the smoking splinter.
By light sense
you dowse out the soul.
Were I like you. Were you like me.
Are we not blown
by the same trades?
We are strangers.
Paving stones: upon them,
close beside one another, a pair
of heart-gray pools:
mouthsfull of silence.
Eyes, world-blind, in the death cleft: I come,
hard growth in my heart.
Moon-mirror, wall-drop. Down.
(Breath-flecked glimmer. Streaks of blood.
Cloudy souls once more taking form.
Ten-finger shadows – cramped.)
eyes in the death cleft,
The snow-bed under the pair of us, the snow-bed.
Crystal and crystal,
grated deep as time, we fall,
we fall and lie and fall.
We were. We are.
We are one flesh with the night.
In the gangways, in the gangways.
Gravel and scree. And a shard thud, light
as an hour’s comfort.
Exchange of eyes, wrong-timed, final:
the retina –
stigma of eternity.
up there, on the rails of the world,
the red of two mouths.
Hearable (before morning): a stone
that made another its target.
Water hour, the rubble barge
carries us toward evening. Like it,
we’re in no hurry, a dead
Why stands at the stern.
Lightened. The lung’s medusa
blows itself into a bell, a brown
the bright-breathed No.
What have I
Sewed the night, as though
there could be others darker than
Bird flight, stone flight, a thousand
traced paths. Glances
stolen and plucked. The sea,
tasted, squandered, dreamed away. An hour
soul-dark. Next, an autumn light
offered up to a blind
emotion that happened by. Others, many,
placeless and heavy with themselves,
glimpsed and evaded.
Fallen rocks, stars,
black, full of language: named
after a gagged oath.
And once (when? even this is forgotten):
felt the barbed hook
where the pulse hazards the backbeat.
ZURICH, AT THE LITTLE STORK
For Nelly Sachs
Of too much was our talk, of
too little. Of you
and once again you, of
obscurity through brightness, of
On the day of an ascension, the
cathedral stood over there, it came
with gold shimmer over the water.
Of your God was the talk, I spoke
against him, I
let the heart that I had
his highest, death-rattled,
Your eye witnessed me, looked past me,
testified to your eye, I heard.
don’t know, do we,
LOW WATER. We saw
the barnacles, saw
the sea-slugs, saw
the nails on our own hands.
No one carved for us the word from the heart wall.
(Tracks of the shore crabs, morning,
creeping-tracks, accustomed paths, wind-
patterns in the gray
silt. Fine sand,
coarse sand, sand
loosened from the walls by
other gritty grains, in
the shell clutter.)
One eye, today,
gave it to a second, both
closed, followed the stream to
their shadows, set down
their load (no one
carved for us the word from the – –), shored outward
a promontory – a bar in front
of a small
AN EYE, OPEN
Hours, many-hued, cool.
That never more to be named, hot,
heard in the mouth.
Nobody’s voice, again.
Smarting depths of pupil:
does not cover, the lash
does not blink what enters.
The tear, half,
the sharper lens,
holds the pictures for you.
THERE WAS DIRT IN THEM, and they dug.
They dug and dug, so their
day went by for them, and their night. And they didn’t praise God,
who, so they heard, had willed all this,
who, so they heard, had foreknown all this.
They dug and heard nothing more;
they didn’t grow wise, they composed no song,
they invented no languages of any kind.
Then came a stillness, and then a storm,
and all the oceans came.
I dig, you dig, and the worm digs too,
and the singer there sings: They dig.
O one, o none, o no one, o you:
Where did it go that never went anywhere?
O you dig and I dig, and I dig myself to you,
and on our finger the ring awakens.
BY WINE AND FORLORNNESS, by
dearth of both:
I rode through the snow, do you hear,
I rode God into distance – nearness, he sang,
our last ride over
the people hurdles.
They ducked their heads when
they heard us above them, they
translated our neighing
of their embroidered languages.
DUMB AUTUMN FRAGRANCES. The
starflower, unsnipped, passed
between home and crevasse through
A strange lostness was
arrestingly present, almost