Dawn Night like a sheet lifting, In thin light we lie still, Beasts resting on in this Golden fog of first day; Warm arms soon vine, sifting Slack flesh for the supple, Sudden pleasure, each wish Fulfilled before it’s made
Written in Rain Like children’s footsteps, pit-pat on the pane. Does this rain touch your skin that I cannot? Cloudy eyes, storm-swaddled planets, Search the blackwetblurred reflection— Visages come. Yes, but not the sought one.
Though you draw first by chemotaxis, Perfume is not all your praxis: Boundless breathings enter me, And other atoms splinter me, And rustlings nestle in my ear Before hair pricks my atmosphere, And twin eyes spool me up like twine Till magnet motion moors the spine And thorns of being stop each pore— My skin says there is room for more, And reeling with each fresh impact Our two expanding worlds contract.
Volta “I will make this,” thought God, “I will make that. (One of the thats can name the thises then.)” And all He had to do was say each thing And it was done, and good, and all was right. And then came man, and this one thing God named, And then this Adam named this that, that this, And then God gave him woman, Eve, by which To breed and lead to us—beasts did the same. There was a flood, of chemicals and such, Which bounced around aboard a barren rock Holding all beings’ potential, earth’s whole stock, Till tongues of lightning (maybe) made it twitch. All life came from this flood, and this is good— We all are equal, and there is no god.
Turn There are no gods or goddesses abroad, And nobody is perfect, heaven knows (And it knows nothing, for it just arose From our old wish to turn the bad to good). And you’re not perfect, love, how could you be, Being a mix of your parents (both mad), Your crazy country, and whatever odd Odds and ends you brought yourself to being? Perfection’s for our Christs and Christesses, Those dream immortals after whom we lust Down in this rubbish bin wherein the dust Of our desires is dumped—God bless! What’s this?! Dear Goddess, as your eyes gaze into mine The water in my veins turns into wine!
Fading into the photograph some of your classmates, No less important, no less alive, but not you—you stand out, A sullen rose, having a bad day in 1936, or that’s just how You look. No less hopeful for it, a whole kaleidoscope of life Spirals out from the black-and-white school picture, The market streets alive with sensory richness, Galway alleyways Leading each to different lives. Perhaps you became a nun, The school selling it well, perhaps a nurse, living by the hospital, Perhaps a corpse hours after this was taken, the sullenness sickness.
What became of you? And why is the became more than you are This 1930s day? Just a rose, unpruned, a flame on film, ready to bloom Like a camera’s flash or to fade like your friends Into the drear background. Why? Because I cannot know, Because the narrative act of lining you all up And saving this second forever sets suspense—what happened next? And next, and next, and after that, and then? What happened?
What is happening, forever now, frame-sized, is you standing, And standing out—your cardigan maybe blue, your eyes as well, Hair light and easy on your well-held head—and looking out, Out at lives coming, possibilities, the schooling done, the ticket To America, to India, to some escape from your life back then, From discipline and rules and drudgery, from poverty and fools And from, oh from, the stings and thorns that are coming, As surely for you as for your fellows, the failures, the regrets, That what ifs and the if onlys, the sullenness of a girl Deepening into the well-worn despair of womanhood, The children and the husband and the house, the parents Sickening and needing care, the bills, the aches, the worries, All the things that go along with any joys, joys of parenthood And love, if such you knew, joys of shelter and of family, All the joys that sit around a grief, expectant diners Waiting for a feast, the servants lined around the board, The silver shining and the linen laid, the wine all ready, Just to be uncorked, the dishes coming in, set down with care, The lids lifted, and the horror underneath. Ah, had they but been empty, Then what care? But the rotted flesh, the shattered bone, The food of monsters set out like a kill— And all your ravenous fellows tucking in.
What pains you saw, what joys, what black-and-whites, Will not be known. Only this lonesome rose will grow and die, And only she will ever know the world she found, And what she made of it, and what she left.
Life is not possible of emptiness, Emptiness not of life— But all that I can give, I give, And lose that you might have. Two cannot become one, no more Than one can become two— And to be half, and meet your half, Might leave two halves, not one.