DEEPER THAN A DREAM MY IMAGINATION HAS ALWAYS SEEN
Deeper than a dream my imagination has always seen
a pilgrimage of sacred clowns dancing against a background
of gathering storm clouds that seem to portend the end of things.
Wiser in their crazy wisdom than the insanity
of the irrational inhumans, braver than heroes
in the courage of their joy, their celebration
almost seems a protest against ineluctable fate,
but there’s a beautiful rapture in the sorrow that makes it art,
a subtle threnody in what they exalt without reservation,
gestures of a playful creativity more profound than doom.
There’s pink on the mountains of the clouds at sunset,
Naples yellow, pale tangerine, but offing to the left
the abyss of a threatening Prussian blue sweeping
like the cape of an infamous eclipse about to deliver
the coup de gras to the whole scene like the sacrificial bull
of the last moonrise trying to get up off its knees.
The grass is plump and damp green on a late summer day.
And there’s a girl with a hoop, not a halo, she’s dancing with
like tree rings jumping orbitals like ripples of rain
and she’s wearing a corny dress, but there’s a smile
on her face you’d think more of a wingspan
than an expression of ineffable bliss realizing
there was never anything more or less than this.
The whole procession is staggered along the ridge
of easy rolling hills like the longer wavelengths of time
that are going to get there just the same, but not in a hurry,
and I don’t have a clue what destination they have in mind
but I’ve always taken it as the sign of the liberated fact
they didn’t need one. No shrine waiting for them at the end.
But it doesn’t matter. The humanly divine is embodied
in the starmud of their own hearts, and it’s shining.
The apocalyptic millenarian imagination of North America
has always struck me as a kind of cosmic viciousness
that wants to call the fire down early to get even
with the people more inspired to love than they are
long before the sun has any notion of mythically inflating its lungs
with one last gasp of the earth’s evaporating atmosphere.
You ever wonder what a Puritan sees when he looks at the stars?
Meteor showers or too many flowers among the vegetables?
I’ve been qualified by love in no man’s land long enough
to wear bars like scars on my shoulder. And disappointment
never tires of telling me I’m ageing, and not to put
too much store in inspiration striking like lightning twice
in the same place on the far side of the lake
I swam across like a brain wave to get here.
Wasn’t it me who wrote life is a river with only one bank
and I’m not even standing on that? I don’t
underestimate the accuracy hidden under the deathmasks of despair
nor the translucency of hidden hopes disguised
by everyday human faces being swept out to sea
like eyelids of apple bloom that didn’t come to fruition.
I’ve bent my will like a ceremonial sword
no one else could ever pick up and use again
and offered it in tribute to the water sylphs
of my imagination like a blade of moonlight on a lake.
My insights have been disciplined in the black holes of my pain.
My whole soul’s been a dark monk in an observatory
on a cold mountaintop where I’ve lived with my solitude
cowled like an eclipse in the enormous silence of an abyss
radiant with stars as beguiling as the sky bound peers
of the earth born wildflowers in the valley down below.
Love can be a terrorist with a sense of compassion
or an angel with a flaming sword you mistook
for a spear of inexplicable ecstasy when you went looking
for someone to fill your hive with honey, but forgot
wasps don’t make honey, only the honey-bees do that.
So it’s tricky. Love isn’t the answer to everything.
Sometimes a little entomology goes a lot further.
Cocoons, chrysales, mustard seed sized eggs and trap door spiders.
Sometimes it’s wise to judge a book by its cover.
And maybe an urn is the inevitable end of the furnace of the heart
love is, and everyone is glutted by a bellyful of ashes,
but even a few chimney sparks of love are enough
to make the fire spread like a firestorm of stars
and deep underground, even in the most demonic, root-fires.