Five from This Alleged Life

Pastoral

In a house of beams and mirrored
images of the struggle with space.

Hours succumb to decorum, we
to the tips of pleasure
purchased in waiting.

*

Outdoors a thresher rolls over sunlight,
pushing it under and up again; the
warmth folds in the solid-brown loam.

—a hard-beaten road stretches slowly
away from the center.

*

Now the lamp shakes from the violent
stamping of hooves.
Night is driven home through lines of oak.

Stretching into spackled dark, the
burnt-out face of the province—
an outline frozen under a pair of headlights.

 

 

 

Hiding

 

in so-called cities of quiet refuge
talking about buffers
– bodies of fire, wild –
and cheapened gods –

those who would offer you
one thing by day
and another by night.

We stood tall according to industry,
breath beneath prairie moon,
watching it quiver on its stalk.

The dog slept soundly
through the brink of light,
one eye open on his master.

  

 

Horse and Harness

 

The eternal nowhere comes to mind.
Domain of formulas and variations,
the way a kite tugs at the rein of springtime

(it reminds me of your dress against a pale blue wall,
its ruched edges knifing through the dusk).

Once you sent me sugar and cigarettes,
the box with a painted-on ribbon,
shade of red and a perfect seam.

I was expecting that.
I knew you would.
Why else do we talk about chapels and
other instruments of precise emptiness?

You said there are few things in life that …

Now I realize that only a handful of people will
fly a kite successfully in their lifetime.
Hands too heavy, unwilling.

And I remember that you kept fixing your dress,
that it was always making you unhappy.

 

 

 

Practically All Else Has Become Absurd

 

Delicate as a promise made by the lake with a moon in full view.
The cross some of us would bear when there is no cross.
Some sacrifice when none was asked for.

And remembering that small crease in your garment,
just below the shoulder.
Why should that remain singed on a page of now?
The city was burning, yes,
and somehow we kept talking through
the panic.

I will always think of how we blew out the candles,
cupped the wick with our palms to spill no drop of wax.

Just before the shutting of the door
I caught sight of our reflections
dawdling like charms a little longer

dancing in a pane of glass.

 

 

 

The Call to Order

 

The spring blossom
(Eastern cherry),
even when the climate
is all dust and weeds
and wind burned skin,
has always been a tipping point.

A round without speech,
without sting of reproach.
Regal as stone.

Place it on the border
of imagination’s side road,
spend a lifetime
burrowed in its season—

watch a single petal,
opaque and dying properly,
drift and peel apart
your trust
in lesser icons.

 

 

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