I COME TO A WALL
I come to a wall, the morning intellectually numb,
soft grey rain on rough-cut fieldstones that have stayed in place
two hundred years like the masonic cemetery of buildings
around town, lodged in time like books on a shelf for show.
I imagine honest, capable men, for the most part, with broken hands
that mended like starfish learning to throw a knuckle-ball.
There it stands, their work, in space and time, functionally sublime
long after life has run out of use for its makers.
Sturdy work, skilled and dirty, did they eventually
ache their lives away, old men with back problems,
sitting on a porch overlooking their wives’ flowerbeds?
Were they fastidious as Michelangelo in the quarries of Carrara
about the marble they chose for their headstones and who,
if their fingers couldn’t grip a chisel anymore, determined
not to lie under shoddy work, would carve them and set them
like jewels back in the earth they took them from? Here
and there the sway-backed stone bends under its own weight
as if it carried the world on its shoulders like an avalanche
it hasn’t let down. Someone solid you could stub your heart on.
How insubstantial this art of the evanescent that practises me
as if silence were making its own reeds for a woodwind
and I was the shriek of a blade of grass between its thumbs.
Discarded stereotypes of the man I would have been
if I hadn’t been born by nature and nurture to seed the sere
with the colour green, and listen to the mute stones sing
of the intangible mysteries of spring that seize them by the throat
like swallows building their nests like begging bowls
in between the cracks of the stone-walling earth. By other means
I build castles for the pageant of the wind on tour
to eat out of house and home, I lay the foundations of zodiacs
to come that will shelter everyone under the eaves
of their shapeshifting signs, symbolic as a guild hall
in a country parade where everyone is represented as an individual
apprenticed to the masterless trade of being themselves
just as they are, each a candidate for their own constellation
like a shire reeve that wins by acclamation. No one else
to run against with the experience of a trained eye
to keep the black and whites of their eighty-eights straight
and on the level like the skeletal keyboard of a celestial piano
playing to a full house of musically inclined ghosts.
I work in quicksand. I work in starmud. I work
on a nightshift of stars like a watchman holding up
the light he’s been given to go by like a lantern in the shadows.
Once I feared madness, but now I know,
as the waxing crescent of the moon sets above
the all night grocery store, it’s an unparalleled labour of love.
It doesn’t matter who or why. Is the rain out of focus
because it has a million eyes and there’s no end of the seeing?
Even in the way it weeps whole firmaments in every drop
along the seam of a blade of stargrass, you can’t halt
the flourishing of life along the unplotted course of the mindstream
making its way to the sea and source of its awareness.
Water remembers everything like the taste of wild irises
because it’s inspired and alive, the legendary beauty
of the fires it fed like daylilies and the ashes in the urns
of the single-petalled roses that flared for a day and a night
before the wind blew them out like loveletters it held over a candle
to read between its tears in the dark the horrendous farewells
of passion and blood that liberate the light from our starmud
and elevate our private sorrows like root-fires into the realms
of the rain that falls like compassion on everything alike
in a world where every experience is a simile of who we are,
imagination individual as a fingerprint in a mirroring consciousness
with no identity of its own, together alone with everyone
bonded like the weather to the sea of awareness we seek shelter in
like a posthumous work of spiritual hospitality that’s been
opening its door to strangers for the last 13.7 billion light years
after the first foundation stone of the universe was laid reciprocally
without pomp and ceremony on the creative side of a singularity
that popped like a mad rabbit out of the white hole of the hat
of a wise magician still gaping like an open window
at her vision of a crazy life before birth and how on earth she did that.