MUSING IN THE AFTERMATH
Everything sings, the shadows of the winter branches against the streetlamp
laced on the windowpane ribboned by dirt, back doors and rooftops
and yet I am enveloped in this silence without wings, this voice
that valleys the universe like a drop of water down the spine of a leaf
to the root of no flower, no heart, no simple mystery of the night
maturing into stars. I’m in a room with books, paintings, lamps,
plants, computers, easels and cats. Things are neither right nor wrong
though I flatter myself that I have grown from mistake to mistake,
defeat to defeat and cloak the sum of all my failures
in the unconvincing authority of experience.
It’s rude to take your masks off in the light.
I try to see myself in the darkness like a star
with too much to say that loves to give its hiding place away. Forgive
this indiscretion of my solitude, but my name has obligations
and there’s nothing in the house to eat but swans.
Soon enough there’ll be a term to all these spectral visions
that add their shadows to the lead migrations of my thought
and traverse the motionless deserts of the skull-faced moon.
And what can I say to the pilgrims who come to visit my heart,
all these lean feelings without deceit or art
who crowd around the miracle like damaged mystics and moths
hoping their agony will be immolated in the serene ferocity of the void?
Space is only the rough draft of my emptiness
and ghosts confer in the wings like uninspired actors
or lie detectors trying to interpret the crimes of my last passion play.
Before I was born to cross the sky in a blue coffin with a black rose
among all these islands of light, I was the ashes of a bird
in the cold furnace of my life, a jest of the indifferent wind
that toys with the lamp and candle of my seeing.
Now, in every word, among a hundred million burning stars,
it’s enough to watch a vagrant firefly, a constellation of one
blind the universe in a single flash with marvel
as I slide down the helical bannisters of every descending starwell
toward the dark by which the dark is known.
Together with everyone I heed the mystery alone
and I don’t know how I got this way
or if I’m a shadow or a wing, the gesture of anything,
but when the moon is in my window, the night arrayed,
musing in the aftermath of life’s homely escapade,
a little afraid, I feel someone dying, and I sing.