EVERYTHING DACTYLIC, A MOIST PAUSE
Everything dactylic, a moist pause, life lingering
in the doorway a little longer than it usually does.
Melancholic vagary of blue smoke from smouldering fires.
Leeches of wet leaves applied like a poultice of duff
to bleed the fever from the flames. Season
of unrivalled farewells that diminish the insignificance
of our names as if they were just broken windows
in an abandoned farmhouse we were looking through
for clues of who used to live here, and discovered,
by the signatures on the paintings of shattered glass on the floor
no one had ever tried to sweep up, it was us, ice-sheets ago.
I’m waiting for a line of poetry to appear out of the air
like a waterbird that changed its mind and came back
to the third eye of the lake it’s been swimming in all year.
As you get older you realize you’ve been leaking
out of your life like a waterclock of weeping urns
for as long as you’ve been breathing on the earth.
Time is the way life cries over its death in the abyss
of another day under its eyelid beginning to rise
to the surface like the new moon of a northern pike
about to bite down hard on the allure of its snakey light.
Provisionally empty as I imagine the objects in a room
I just left feel when I’m not there to derive
an identity from them, I wait like a seance
without a ghost or a medium for the void,
without asking, to summon the silence without seeking,
a stray hair on the shoulder of someone you once loved
when your arms were still strong enough to hold her,
and in that one hair alone, read her like scripture.
Maple fires from deep in the heartwood
on the waters of life, tears that burn with the agony
of departures we gave our reluctant assent to
that wounded us for the rest of our lives
because love never heals the toys it grew up with
like a childhood cemetery of voodoo dolls
that served their purpose and were left as they were
in some out of the way corner of our eyes
to go on working their spells long after
there’s more twilight than dawn in the call for it.
God, I miss you sometimes on days like this
in the autumn. What a bell of hurt the circus cannon
of the heart can turn into without a foghorn of warning,
when I remember how I used to wake up every morning
and eat a spoonful of ashes at my own cremation,
as if someone had just thrown the first draft of a manuscript
into the flames of my funeral pyre, like the soul of a man
tormented by the dark mystery of a woman he loved
that lasciviously enlightened his eyes like stars
at the Luciferian beauty of Venus casting his shadow
on a moonless night just before dawn on the snow.
Gone like the geese and the leaves and the wildflowers,
derelict orchards left to their own resources,
overgrown with bitter ivy and skeins of morning glory,
gone like a windfall of gravestones and apples,
I remember mourning you like foxfire in the wake
of a great conflagration that had passed over me,
the shadow of the wing of the great goddess of desire
rubbing her firesticks together like the lightning rods
of the fireflies that filled the valley after the storm
you buried me in with that first handful of starmud
as you were leaving in a squall of blackholes for good.
Space turned into a gravitational glass eye
and I finally understood what the watchers were looking at
like a nightwatchman who’d lost the master keys
to the locks on the houses of a repossessed zodiac.
I lived like a squatter on the crown lands of paradise
for awhile, condemning the folly of my oceanic,
emotional convictions, when the fact of the matter was
my lifeboat went down like a lead plumb bob
with every tear I shed like a witch ball in a kiln.
Windows can weep. And so can mirrors. Mirages
have feelings that don’t escape the attention of frauds.
But there was a sadness and a silence and a solitude
that returned to me tenderly bruised like a prodigal
celebrating his homecoming to nothing he recognized anymore
as the place he set out from to experience someone like you
who could draw an indelible line like a sword between me and you
like a crosswalk through my name, and mean it
like the threshold of a taboo that wasn’t going to wait
for the lights to change like the eyes of mythic peacocks.
A sadness. A silence. Solitude. In your absence.
A spontaneous shrine I make of the moment.
I see you laughing when you were infernally happy
and I was so enamoured of the creature you were
I could hardly believe it was me who was in love with you,
that you breathed like good luck on the dice
I played with the shepherd moons of my prophetic skull
and win, lose, or draw, you at my side, I took the table
as if I’d been printing my own money to buy into
a love affair I could ill afford resisting for the sake
of playing it safe against the odds of it ever happening again.
As it hasn’t. I know now what a perennial event
in my life it will always continue to be as I recall
wisely, despite myself, the elemental ferocity of the dragon
behind your shyness, and the compassionate duplicity
of your savage innocence only when it was necessary
to kill quickly with a sharp knife to minimize the pain,
and how, for reasons even the spring can’t explain to itself,
autumn is always more auspiciously creative in the way
it goes on sowing seeds in the wake of its own decay
like stars in the ashes of the perishing continuum
of who we were to one another when our eyes shone
o lightyears a moment ago with sorrows that ripen
the bliss of tomorrows that will blossom like full moons
on the dead branches of autumns just like this one to come.
Or here on these green boughs I’m ageing into
I’ve never stopped singing to you from like a waterclock
that flowers in death as life roots its deepest mysteries
in the windfalls of love that come to fruition through
separation and pain, the new moon in the arms of the old,
letting go, again and again, so the circle remains unbroken,
and what can’t be spoken in the sacred seed syllables
that lie dormant as dreams behind their deathmasks,
are stirred by the same longing that woke the nightbird to a song
without beginning or end, no escape from the open,
no gate on the prison, no expiry date on the coffins
extolled by the fruits of the sweetest secrets undying within.