DUMB, GREY SKIES
Dumb, grey skies
and the last of the leaves to fall
hugging the trunks of their trees
like rifles at the Alamo
as everyone waits for the snow
like a bell waits for the next funeral.
I used to think I talked to myself
but now I realize
I’m not even part of the conversation.
I’m the empty chair at the round table
of some unconverted calendar
where every night
is the night of the full moon
and time is just another kind of weather.
And I don’t mean this nihilistically,
as if I were out to prove God was a fraud
even as I’m standing in her shadow.
And by the grace of my benevolent genes
I’m too stupid to be a cynic.
It’s just that I don’t let my eyes
get in the way of my seeing anymore
and grieving the loss of things and events
as if they were the emotional life of the air
seems exhaustively redundant
when it occurs to you like yesterday
that the sweetest recollection you have
is the missing witness that proves
you weren’t even there.
There’s no who’s who of the mind
that’s got my name in it
that isn’t a fiction of the wind
evolving its own themes
from the lifelines
on the palms of the falling leaves
flowing downstream on a river
that doesn’t consult them like maps.
There’s nothing and no one to follow
not even a self
when everything’s already here
in this moment
where there is no coming and going
no birth or death
no beginning or end
of what you pour in
or what you pour out
breath into breath.
I have suffered the lightning-stroke
of the sword
in the hands of the angel at the gate
burning like a wild fire
through the roots of the cedars of Eden
whenever I’ve tried to crawl back in
on my hands and knees
and I have silvered my leaves
like a Russian olive
in the lustre of the radiance
of its underground rivers
that shine by a light of their own
whenever I’ve been driven out again
like a flower in late October
trying to make its own way in the rain.
Two blades of grace
that cut like the moon
through inseparable knots of water
forever on their way
to winning and losing the world like autumn,
as it is the last ghost of hope in the old wine
that dreams unsparingly of the new vine
until what has been
falls down drunk
in a delirium of the future
that can hardly remember its name.