If I am sentenced not to talk to you,
and you are sentenced not to talk to me,
then we wear the clothes of the desert
serving that sentence, we are the leaves
trampled underfoot, not even fit to be
ground in for food, then we are the snow.
If you are not what I take you to be,
and I am not what you take me to be,
then we are the glass the bridegroom smashes,
the lost tribes underfoot, no one sees,
no one can speak to us, in such seas we
drift in we cannot be saved, we are the rain.
If I am unable to help myself,
and you are unable to help yourself,
then anything will happen but nothing follows,
we eat constantly but nothing satisfies.
We live, finally, on the simplest notions:
bits of glass in the head’s reticent weather.
Marvin Bell, “Your Shakespeare” from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org
Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000
(Copper Canyon Press, 2000)