TIME GRIEVES IN ME, AUTUMN IN THE APPLE
Time grieves in me, autumn in the apple.
Warm sugars in the dusk, my body mourns
the flowering farewells of what has passed,
the eerie twilight smiles of ghosts at the gate
I haven’t seen in lightyears, heraldic seabirds
this far off the coast of an approaching landfall
where I’ll step out of the lifeboat claiming
nothing in the name of anyone who doesn’t
already live there like the private diary of a sundial,
whether they cast a shadow or not, or time
loses its sense of direction in eternity between
one thought-moment and the next, and the waterclock
I was will say out of what I remember of being human,
no destination, you’re free to drift as you wish.
Or if the arrows’s broken for good, the weathervane
doesn’t crow anymore like a cast iron rooster
in a dawn that doesn’t distinguish its voice
from the silence of the darkness that absorbs it
like the white noise of the mute and the dumb
as back up singers to the background cosmic hiss,
let space do the flowing as a change of pace.
Sit on your hands. Unborn. Unperishing.
Embrace your own stillness like a starmap
making plans not to do anything more for the night,
knowing space is as important as timing used to be
to content, when you were all creation myth
in the beginning, and untimely allegory of perishing
at the end. And the young? How you baffled them
lingering in the doorway of an abandoned house of life
they ran to for sanctuary like an old man with nothing
but room on his hands. Be a sea to the waterbirds.
Be a sky to the stars. Death the measure
of how far we’ve walked together without ever
coming to a fork in the roads where we parted company
and birth, the second innocence of the return journey,
better than the first, because, like the flowers of earth,
didn’t we always cherish those most that bloom last?
Oceans ago. When we took the height of starfish
to know how far we’d sunk, and plumbed the eyes
of blackholes with galactic irises for haloes
to determine how long it would take for a shipwreck
to rise again on the event horizon of our next port of call.
Black sail, white sail, same photograph
flying the colours of a country not our own.
Cool bliss I’m beginning to trust, and lust,
God bless lust, taking its time like a slow cologne,
savouring what it used to gulp as if it were
trying to make an ice-cream cone last. Self-sufficiently
mad enough to be gainfully-unemployed finishing
the long labour of destroying my life creatively
I’ll go down into the underworld with my tortoise-shell
abalone Chinese voice-box within a voice-box,
that’s saved every echo of the sirens and muses I’ve ever listened to,
and death or no death, I won’t waste my futility on
trying to make sense of it all, crying over
the vaporous nature of tears. Death is no business
of mine. And life’s a long holiday I took in the flesh.
But I’ll ask her to come with me just the same.
She’ll look back on everything and her hand
will slip from mine like a loveletter of lifelines
out an envelope that hasn’t got anything
to look forward to but what’s been left behind
like a name traced in an afterthought of dust
on a windowsill, an old threshold of seeing
like a bird with a message, a star, a housefly,
the tuning fork of a mosquito, a lightning strike,
a firefly, the wind before a veil of rain, a firefly
that looked down upon the rooftops of a small town
with tears in its eyes for what transpires here,
and a telescope with a hand-painted lens of what it wants to see
when the mirages I crossed starless deserts for
are too near, far too near to my heart to be believed.
Never tell anybody the truth about the causes
and conditions of suffering, and love that asserts
it doesn’t have any, unless there’s enough
mercy in your heart to remember that we
are all humans, expressions, not definitions of ourselves.
But I’ll praise her in such sad, hermetic songs
the great secret of love and life and art
can’t help but speak for itself through her eyes alone,
neither true to the sunset she shines in, nor
false, when she rises before it, to the dawn.