They are so like
Us, frozen in a bald passion
Gaze, like the cows whose lashes
Sag beneath their frail sacks of ice.
Your eyes are white with fever, a long
Sickness. When you are asleep,
Dreaming of another country, the wheat’s
Pale surface sliding
In the wind, you are walking in every breath
Away from me. I gave you a stone doll,
Its face a dry apple, wizened, yet untroubled.
It taught us the arrogance of silence,
How stone and God reward us, how dolls give us
Nothing. Look at your cane,
Look how even the touch that wears it away
Draws up a shine, as the handle
Gives to the hand. As a girl, you boiled
Your dolls, to keep them clean, presentable;
You’d stir them in enormous pots,
As the arms and legs bent to those incredible
Postures you preferred, not that ordinary, human
Pose. How would you like me?—
Leaning back, reading aloud from a delirious
Book. Or sprawled across your bed,
As if I’d been tossed off a high building
Into the street,
A lesson from a young government to its people.
When you are asleep, walking the fields of another
Country, a series of shadows slowly falling
Away, marking a way,
The sky leaning like a curious girl above a new
Sister, your face a doll’s deliberate
Ache of white, you walk along that grove of madness,
Where your mother waits. Hungry, very still.
When you are asleep, dreaming of another country,
This is the country.