From “Titan / All Is Still”
A black sun rises in the West of me
& will never set. God of my fathers, sleep
like the one sleeping next to me;
inert & tenderly coiled. I am so grateful
to yóu, that breathes as the dead
breathe in their shallow land — barely,
below the range of my hearing.
That draws in the thin streams of black air
& shifts & puts a white arm around me.
I want to know, Né, what it is like
in the kingdom of the dead where you are.
Is the one I fear there with her train
of silver hair? Have you seen John, the temples
of his glasses duct-taped to the hinge?
I know it is not still there; I know everything
is in furious motion beneath
the black sun & the sky white as chalk —
the torrent of silver hair whipped
about her face that woke in the moonlight
on the last morning, lucid & fluent,
& turned toward my father & said, “I love you,”
walking backward on the white road
into the white sky toward the white city,
black sun clearing the horizon &
a wind lifting in the torn leaves like the wind
in the wood above Lady’s Walk
where I trespassed in spring, singing,
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, the bluebells
hissing like cats & the canopy
a violent array, violently outside me
in flickering Islamic greens / Spanish grays,
the topside / bellyside of milled
leaves, the harebells biting their bitter tongues,
& raising its head in panic, a juvenile
fallow deer stippled with thick white spots.
Then someone shouted, “Oy, stay there, you fúck,”
Oyé, Whale, & my launces in his side,
& I went down the hill with the sweetgrass
pulling at me & the spit in my mouth.
Né, I cannot sleep. Ever since I lost my little children.
I look for their shapes on the ceiling,
in the dark, & they are not there.
Né, never, no, no, never, never, never, never.
There is nothing, Né. Neither the night
nor the white city like Conholt in its great estate.
Not the hart, nor the furious wood.
O, John, John. I came downstairs still drunk
to find you asleep with your head
on the hoover, & the hoover still running;
half-shaved, the tape on your glasses,
your mouth open & the tattered Crombie.
Then years later when Oli called & you were,
O John. Y am alpha and oo, the firste
and the laste, bigynnyng and ende.
O, John, John. No white city as a wijf ourned to hir hosebonde,
no voice in the wind, in the (clouds) crying
Lo! Y make alle thingis newe. I make all things new.
Como una novia adornada para su esposo.
Como tu cuerpo en la noche, Né; like this body
that pregnancies have raged over
& I have loved with my mouth moost feithful and trewe.
i And let him that is athirst come.
ii And let him that heareth say, Come.
iii And let the dawn thunder up in the street
while you are sleeping with the first cars sauntering
by & the dustmen & women whistling.
Lord, I will stand before yóu when yóu wish
in death’s little house & yóu will eat my pronoun.
In that other life that will be ours
where there is neither marriage nor children,
I may kneel beside you, Mouse, & not
know you — our eyes like a golem’s, empty
of their own will, but full of hís,
the dead Lord at the center of hís dead city.
In the days when my glory is stripped
from me, & yours from you, & all are made
equal — no aesthetic splendor, no charm,
no subversive, faithless glances to-
ward those I have loved & have loved me;
no property, no desire, no variation,
no sparrowhawk thrusting through birches
in the snow toward the wood, for
hé never stepped in a wood, nor saw a harebell
easing its frail metaled head, its light
pinks & papery blues, through the first tranche
of snow in November, nor the gray cere
of the plunderer beneath her blue helmet,
her single attention, wings volute in air,
head w/ beak narrowly ajar in concentration
& hunger breaking the line of the fence
at the old house in Broadway;
in the snow; in the snow that has flattened
everything, the bells ringing out,
the clouds heaped above the Blackdowns
dragging themselves from the earth,
headlights on the ridge in the wind groping
toward them, the hills featureless,
snuffed, white, black, dull, shining w/ no light.
No drinking in the afternoon, no dope,
no flaring temper. No bed to sleep
it off, Mouse, while you draw catkins & piggies
& pussybears with gorgeous happy frowns
in the cold. No sleep, no flesh to rest
in, for there is only day in the white irradiate
city where the lamb lights hís terrible
mercy in to worldis of worldis, forever & ever
& hís government will never fail, for no glory
is allowed but hís glory, no bone
gouvernance but hís bone gouvernance,
no prison camp but hís prison camp,
hís plantations, hís will & techne, hís punishment
beatings, hís censorship, hís textual criticism,
hís forgiveness, hís rehabilitation, O
ferdful men, & vnbileueful & cursid & manquelleris.
Mouse, on that day, will you turn toward me
& will I see in the insubstantial glass
of your eyes the memory of these days;
myself, father, authority, half chocolate & half
steel, still carrying you at six up the hill
& down the hill, still playing the Ticklepuss
& Crocopotamus, the horn of plenty,
salver, lessener of cries, bringer of swallows
& dragonflies, the Emperor & Downy Emerald
hovering over still waters in the valei of teeris,
wolves in the mist in the hills
above Antequera where the rocks bared
themselves like teeth & you were
asleep on my chest with fine alabaster
eyelids & eyelashes plashed with droplets of dew?
Where I said, “Shhhhhh, close your eyes
& imagine that you’re a water reed, Mouse,”
& I blew on you & that was the wind
& then my hand was a snail wandering over
your eyelids & the nape of your neck
& last of all it rained & that was my fingers
going pitter-pat upon the pinnacles of your head.
The days fade through our slow parting;
your mother grows ambivalent. Little accident,
in the stillness of the earth there is no life;
the harebell reaches its root into death
& the waters flow down until the rock is dry.
I wanted more than I was given,
& found in betrayal a churning courage.
Torchlight in the garden where we make our choice.
The will that flickers. My loss. Our bliss.
Mouse, on the last day, remember this.
Lying with you, Né, in the sun, in the (clouds)
half-listening to the Senegalese preacher
two mornings after the riots
when they ran Mame Mbaye down to the gutter
& wishing you would go buy your mutes
& play again, here, in silence, —
for them & for me & yourself & the polis —
Bach’s Suiten für Violoncello No. 1.
To watch in dumb show the formal motions
that reify language & music — the flesh;
your shoulder & forearm & wrist
& lightly-draped fingers one continuous
dependent assemblage flowing south to the river
at Arganzuela & the chuckling magpies.
There is an authority in you, when you play,
that is different from the authority
of the whap | whap of rotor blades overhead;
control that is liberation, a concentration
that is neither at one point nor diffuse,
like the globes of light hovering over the lampposts
in your myopia last night; wandering
across the river, the madrileños
also entonados swaying like palm fronds
in the wind; then the dark, & our one body
with its artifacts of pregnancy & loss.
An authority that is different from the authority
of the Lord in hís dead city, hís kingdom
that has no contiguity with ours, no conformitá,
the streets empty of opposition
& neither wind nor rain; nor thunder, nor tears.
Now a thin sun is dwelling in the wind.
I wd like to reach out to you in its cold light
& pull the shape of your body into mine;
put my tongue against your eyes
so I can taste what it is you see through them;
the restaurant opening, the crisp cloths.
Even the polis with their holsters & war clubs
looking on carefully & asexually
like angels come to lie with the daughters of men.
A kestrel on a lamppost strips the bascinet
from a cricket with slow, considerate
motions: lovely rare flame.
Have they buried Mame Mbaye? They are erasing
a name from the wall & the quarter is pacified.
Clouds rise above Guadarrama,
Somosierra, above the meseta like kites.
The picoletos shift from foot to foot in long
black boots. Bells bleat — lambs;
Alsatians on leashes. The bougainvillea —
glad to bring us at last the first trace
of its colors — flaunts a breathless restraint.