YOU’RE AN ORCHARD
You’re an orchard.
You’re the flower that sweetens the dark
without being seen.
You’re the first shadow of a cloud on the moon.
I’ve seen your face. A photo.
But I’ve never touched it
and the things you write to me
almost make me afraid
of being the man
I always hoped I could be
even if it were just to remain true
to the farce of the illusion.
So many times
I’ve been poured out of my life
like blood from a wound
shocked to find itself suddenly out in the open
without a way to get back to its heart
and the worst was to realize
the deepest wounds
had thrust the poison tips of their spears
through me from the inside.
There was nothing else to do but die
and hope I could learn to master myself
like a new medium without a message for help
from a lifeboat that never rescued anyone.
I learned to bluff my way through experience
like a gambler who sits down at a table
without any money
or witness over his shoulder.
I balanced my constellations
like a house of cards
and slowly over the eras
of life in the igneous snakepits of hell
where the night smells like coal
I squeezed myself out of the darkness
like demonically enlightened diamonds
that flowed like water out of a stone
as I felt the weight
of one of the robes of life
fall lightly across my shoulders like a sky
like grass on a hill
like the moon on an unnamed lake.
A sword in the sewer
that took me back
like a mortally wounded dimension
or a dragon among the firefly angels
that came to me like words,
I was equally at home in all the mirrors
that I wore like scales and skin.
But sometimes it’s harder to wake up
from a dream you’re not having
than it is the one you are
and the blades of the crescent moons
in the ferocious eyes
of even the most estranged dragons
eventually turn into scars.
It may be the greatest of follies
to endure the agony of longing
for what you know you can never attain,
and not at all crucial
that you’ve never been crucial to anyone,
and love’s no more than a bone
that’s been unmarrowed,
and a heart unhinged by desire
isn’t the makings of a bird,
but the phoenix, the salamander,
the dragon, the demon all know
how to grow in the fires of illusion
like a burning ladder of thresholds
up to the stars
or the themes of homeless lamps
you can’t put out.
That’s why you’re
the black kissing stone
before it fell from heaven,
the peerless window
before it’s been looked through
and made heavy over the years
by the glass tears that crawl
like eras of sorrow
across the wastes of the brutal clarity
of the pain and confusion
in so many eyes.
Time is the true temperature of the world
but I have always lived critically
in the slums of a fever that is about to break
into a whole new world view
laid like a cool night sky across my forehead.
When I conceive of you, when
I summon you from far away
like a tree on a hill where I’m buried
to be close to me awhile in all this solitude
I don’t know what gathers out of space
but I always see a discarded veil
of startled stars
before I see your face
in the black mirror of one my scales
like an apparition in the fires
of the mystic auroras
a dragon breathes like colours
nobody’s ever seen before
when he’s dreaming on his own.
And it never fails
that when I go out digging for fossils
on the alien planets
I used to call home
I’m always shocked to find
my own constellation
huddled in a darkness of bone
trying to divine an explanation
for the strange radiance
that shines out even underground
like uranium without a half-life
that’s affixed its dark star like a gene
to the shapeshifting chromosome
that dreams of all the things that might have been
even as it makes you
the new colour of my eyes.
There’s a light that illuminates.
And there’s a light that clarifies.
And then there are all those billions of stars
that shine inwards
like destinies that somehow
got turned around
like black Kaabas in the night
to face in all directions
without a needle in the compass of insight
to say where they’re going.
But I’m not looking for dawn in the west
or shells in the mountains,
or starmaps in the Burgess Shales
and these days the grails
I hid like Easter eggs
all over the garden
can find their way back to me
as far as I’m concerned.
I’m bored with the old devotions
that sent my native intelligence
to finishing school
to deepen my grasp
of their primordial ignorance
I’ve returned like water
to the crazy wisdom of my senses
by leaking out of my own hair
like a comet out of a coma
or the long breath of a waking dragon
in the cold, night air
is older than signs.
I’ve come down from my constellation
like a painter climbs down
a scaffolding of dots and lines
where he’s just finished
a masterpiece for the blind
like a permanent eclipse of the moon.