THE WIDENING COMPASS OF PAIN
The widening compass of pain in the wake
of beauty that must pass deeper into us,
the illimitable spaces within, than any black hole
the gateway of its singularity into another world
where the ashes of the stars we once walked under
nourish the flower mouths of a darker shining
than this that consumes us here in these intimate fires
where lovers consult each other’s desires like starmaps
and farewell is the path of a transitory medium.
Deeper than nails, than stars, than the night skies
we breathe so deeply into us our lungs burn
in the cold air, to transform them into blood,
to bathe in the fragrance of the light in our tears,
to root the seeds of our despair like nerves
of dark matter in the tillage of our starmud
until the universe is shaped by the unseen
and what we curse today as pain, tomorrow
we shall bless in praise of what our sorrows
came to mean like autumn to the apple of the heart.
Give loss two wings, not one to lure away predators
from what you cherish most in life
by feigning injury like a feather duster
or a cedar bough that sweeps the earth of your tracks,
two, if you want the waterbirds to rise
from the unnamed lakes of your grief
and send your longing off into oblivion
like a message that isn’t expecting an answer
from what you seek so ardently from love
it’s a secret you dare not speak of, even to yourself
lest you soil it with your own vulnerability.
Wounded, practise the art of soothing
with no thought of saving yourself. Separate
and apart, let your eyes speak of union
as if every drop of rain flowed
like the course of the river from the mountain
to the sea, down the broken windowpane
of the ice in the eye of the fountain of your lament.
Poor in spirit, break the dark abundance
of your poverty into bread you can share
with the bright vacancy of the rich
who have squandered their shadows
on the mirages of light that deceive them
like birds flying into mirrors of the sky
like windows in a palace of water
that disappears into oblivion as soon
as the prince reaches out to possess
his own illusion like the reflection of a moonrise.
Even if you’ve built a pyre of green wood
that hisses and smoulders like the wet leaves
of a holy book you’ve been crying over in the fall,
waiting for a phoenix to perch on your burning bough,
lie down upon it yourself and be that flower
that blooms in the fire of your autumn immolations.
At war with the world and yourself
like two halves of the same unbroken wishbone,
teach the children how to approach their crossroads
in peace, and speak of the sword of the slayer
like a sacred syllable in the mouth of the slain
that cut through your umbilical cord
like a link in a golden chain that held you back
from the liberation of a lyrically unbounded life.
Mollify the poison of the thorn with the cure
in the medicine bag of the other fang.
When the wedding gown of the Japanese plum tree
is ruined in the rain and the dust like blossoms
blowing down the road like the happiness you hoped for,
be the nude in the doorway of a darker bliss
that roots its revelation like lightning in the soil
of your flesh, like deltas of insight greeting
an ocean of awareness at the end of a long pilgrimage,
knowing the return journey is more radiant than the first.