THE NIGHT DANCES WITH ITSELF LIKE AN ONLY CHILD
The night dances with itself like an only child
to the sounds of its own silence
when it thinks no one is watching.
Every falling leaf, a gesture of the hands,
poised, a word, a bird, a butterfly on a branch,
a sacred syllable from an alphabet that can dance,
caught in the updraft of a momentary insight
of falling to paradise like a flightfeather of light,
and landing the move just right, just so, with perfect timing.
The maples by day, easels for hot palette paintings,
red shift through red, orange, yellow, green
from the outside in toward the trunk, same
as a rainbow, same as the dynastic colours of a sunset.
Same as the fires of life returning to the root.
Same as the starmaps of the visionaries
flying like shamans from the nests they were fledged in.
Same as the ripening of the fruits of the earth,
or roses with green stars under their eyelids.
Different instruments, different voices,
the wind, the rasping of the leaves, the beaver
slapping the startled flesh of the water at my approach,
a twig snapping its drumstick on a rim shot
and the crow, and the squeaking bats, and the lapping
of the waves like the plectra of an aquamarine harpsichord
at the whole notes of the rocks, but a confluence
of picture-music washing the roots of the dead violins
of the wild irises and the timpani of cattails along the mindstream.
Merrily, merrily, row your boat, life is but a dream.
But to judge from the windfalls of green planets
shaken from the black walnut trees, it’s a dream
that’s urgent with the myriad realities of a multiverse
waking up in a place like here, and a time like now
with a lavish appetite for inhabiting itself
as if appearance weren’t just the rind
that had to be peeled away like the skin and the shell
of the meat of the real, the shapes of the known worlds
the rat snakes shed like intimate illusions
that have naturally outgrown themselves,
the new moon in the arms of the old, like a nightsky
leaving the Milky Way, a mythically deflated windsock
tangled in the tree line like a runway that tried to fly by itself.
Now the Great Shedding as the earth turns
like the old abandoned mill wheel upstream
like a circular waterclock making linear time
take its tail in its mouth like an eternal recurrence
that’s always pouring itself out of itself like life
into the emptiness between the equinox of one thought
and the solstice of the next like the silence between heartbeats,
the night between the stars, like the inseparable gap
between the distant moon and the intimacy of the moon’s reflection
on the newly surfaced dark skin of the water sequencing
its pentatonic scales to the seasonal themes of the mindstream
you can’t step into twice, as Heraclitus said in Ephesus long ago,
though it seems that way if all you’re doing is dogpaddling
like a delinquent green apple on a snow covered bough, instead
of going along with the perennial renewal of the flow
by letting go of your water skin with its lunar tattoo
like the bright vacancy of an old silo of the light
for the dark abundance of the new insight
into the nature of life when it full in October.
The fall. This hour of my becoming
when everything is burning like the sumac
with the fires of life but nothing is consumed.
Because fire doesn’t burn fire and death is unperishing.
And autumn is no less of a transformation than spring
as this new day dances as readily with the old woman
watching from her kitchen window as it does the young girl,
than the rain is to the tides of a lunar ocean
swaying in its shadows as if it were dancing
with its river reeds like a lonely child
in the embrace of her imagination,
like a poet in the grip of his crazy wisdom
flirting like a firefly with the dragons of his madness
without listening to the search parties of the lighthouses
bellowing like the foghorns of mournful trains back on shore
being swept away into the distance like nightwatchmen
and unconvincing ghosts. Things are unmooring
like lifeboats full of seeds and the souls of the dead
taking to their wings like the oars of waterbirds,
and the lowest of earthbound snakes
are dreaming of feathering their scales
into the vans of a dragon firewalking with stars
around the wobbling axis of the earth
on a potter’s wheel, turning it like sentient starmud
that’s fired up in autumn like an urn that burns like a kiln.