SOMETHING DEEPER THAN TEARS
Something deeper than tears to weep for you.
I weep blood. I weep the silence
on the backstairs with the screen door
that bangs like the sound of one hand clapping
all through the night at the slightest gust of wind
as if a constellation were trying
to strike up a insightful conversation
with a wet match, the sceptre of a spent blossom.
I need a moon deeper than water to drown in.
I need to dance the pain away
in a sword dance of serpents
that know how to carry a tune
like a well fledged arrow, a beautiful toxin,
straight to the heart of the mysterious apple
that’s sitting on top of my head like a prophetic skull.
No flower can say. Not any number of song sparrows
returning to the budding tree in spring,
no green leaf of an innocent tongue,
not even this dry leaf of mine in autumn
writing lyrics on the wind no one can read,
not even among ghosts, can find a voice
that isn’t already the dead language
of an absence that can’t be adorned
by a seance of words.
I light no candles. I summon no gods.
No pretence of knowing where you’ve gone.
No black hole that’s as empty as
your ring on the table, no halo
that ever fell as far from heaven.
Good-bye’s too optimistic and farewell’s
the rudder of a grave on the rocks.
And if I were to raise the paper sail
of another poem like the waxing phase
of the funereal moonboat
that carried you away,
I’d make it black. I’d raise it
like the shroud of a black magician
that can make things disappear,
like an eclipse at half mast
and patch it with the skull and crossbones
of a different phase of the moon on the dark side.
I wouldn’t return your personal belongings
back to the morning like starlings and doves.
But there aren’t enough sacred syllables
swimming like moonlit fish
in the watershed of the silence
to open this fountainmouth of grief
like an aviary of flightless birds.
Nor would I risk having you remember me,
and turn around like a false start,
supposing you can still recall anything at all,
like a light you left on in the hall
the night you left home for good.
You were magic while you were here to work it.
You were the black nun of an enlightened cult of one.
You were the black mass of the sun at midnight
and the blood sister of the moon
that nicked your finger
on both her crescent thorns at once
so one was the cure to the other’s wound
like the eyes of a cat, the fangs of a snake.
Given how close to the moon you were
it didn’t come as a surprise
when you started writing me loveletters
inscribed in bone as if you’d just invented
a whole new language out of your claws
to make love to a poet in the nude when the moon
didn’t lay its silver sword down between us
to keep us a threshold apart from our fingertips.
And it wasn’t long before the elixir began to work
and I lost count of the number
of consensual metaphors I had for your lips,
similitudes for the night skies
that surrounded your eyes in a delirium of stars
that revelled in the crazy wisdom
of their mystically inspired atmospheres.
As just as beautiful as they were,
so were they irresistibly dangerous.
How many light years now
have I poured this memory of them
like a love potion over my roots
and waited for you to bloom in my bloodstream
like stars and blossoms streaming
through the heartwood of an ageing tree
that has as many dead branches on it as it does leaves,
and like an orchard anticipating moonrise,
knew you weren’t coming anymore,
and the night bird had no one to sing for?
But, hey, I’m still a better seance
than I am an exorcism and if you can hear me
calling the faithful to prayer
in all directions at once like a paper airplane
the boy in me has sent out to search for you
like a loveletter in a hurricane of razor wire,
dripping with clusters of blood
the size of hemorrhaging grapes,
fireflies caught in a spider-web
of starless constellations that aren’t a sign
of anything except I miss you worst at night.
If you could sense the tremor
in even the slightest wavelength of light
I’m trying to shine on the darkness to find you,
I’d write you a holy book of sacred silence
inspired by the shadows in my blood
that overtake me like strangers from behind
with an urgent message not to return home
to what isn’t there anymore.
I’d sit out here all night by myself
beside the black waters of this night creek
unravelling like a ribbon in mourning,
that’s been talking to itself
as it walks in its sleep on the water,
and I would beseech the stars with my eyes
to let me know if they’ve seen you,
and in my heart I would entreat them
with the solo of a wounded wolf
raising its head up in a wild prayer
to catch a trace of you on the chilly night air,
to give me a starmap to when and where
I can see you face to face again
and touch your eyelids in your sleep
like crocuses coming up through the snow.
Like moonrise in the apple blow of the storm
that scattered us to winds like all these poems
I’ve tried to write for you ever since
as if you were still somewhere nearby
like another pair of eyes
in my pain and my solitude
watching from the woods
the stars, the water, the moon,
under the stones in the river
that mark your grave and name
above the flowing of this endless epitaph
of leaves and blossoms and poems
as if you alone could still read them,
like the comings and goings,
of waterbirds on the moon,
the first draft of words on the wind,
maple leaves and keys on the mindstream,
and still understand what I was trying to mean.