COULD I BREATHE THE STARS
Could I breathe the stars, I would expire in light.
Were I the harvest moon, I would retract my claws.
Were my heart anything other than what it is,
I would be a windfall of silver apples burnished by crows
and not this rag of a man with a mouthy wound.
I would not be this perversion of radiance mutating
in these acephalic mirrors warped by shape-shifting space.
I would see clearly the angry red berries of the hawthorn
and adopt them as a solar system. And think I was blessed.
And, o yes, spiky woman, when love was in eclipse
if I were not so afraid of falling upon you like a sword,
I would notch the moon like a gunsight
with its own valleys and mountains,
and let the light shine through like Bailey’s Beads,
and place it on your head like a laurel of fire,
the enlightened corona of a door I’ve left ajar.
You agitate the spiders in their morning webs
into vibrating like the needles of sewing machines
or the clappers of fire alarms, as the sun
takes the pulse of its dreamcatchers,
looking for signs of life from the night before.
I am a creature of darkness. I know the abyss.
It fills you like a universe you just can’t seem
to get your heart and arms around.
It’s bigger than the wingspan of your spirit,
the one vacuum nature doesn’t abhor.
No end of it. No beginning you can hope for.
You embody the impersonality of it intimately.
The dark mother of the abounding stars
whose beauty adds an edge to the emptiness
that keeps you from pleading for oblivion
in an isolation deeper than the dead.
The irises were surgically removed from your eyes
and you’re out looking for rainbows at night with a match.
But there’s no one to keep your promises to,
and just at the bend in the river, where you laid
a poppy on the grave of the white crow
to pay your respects to the end of the road,
you plunge over the edge of a finger-pointing precipice
like a willow of water into an ocean of awareness
and there’s no one there to catch you. And the dreamcatchers
aren’t the safety nets they said they were.
Were I a witchdoctor that knew the antidote to love
I would come with strange concoctions
of the Pleiades and deadly nightshade
ground with a sexual pestle in the mortar of my skull
and spiced with a measure of the inconceivable
and have you rise from your death bed
like a miracle among roses that escaped the frost.
I’d stroke the back of your hand like the head of a swan.
And you’d feel it melting like ice. The moon would bloom
like a love letter delivered to a dead branch.
The nightmare of the dispassionate fever
would transmutate into an elixir of life
that would thrill every flower into believing they had
lightning for roots. Wondrous blossoms of insight.
Into the Open. Into the Absence, the nihilistic emptiness
of the cup poured out in a hemorrhage of the heart
when the wine went bad. Someone there in the doorway
gone like a shadow from the sundial of the farewell
they left you with like the wing of a bird
that doesn’t sing anymore in the morning.
And even the birch groves don’t feel very strong
when they’ve been cast down by an ice storm
into white canes and crutches of suffering
you once could lean on for emotional support.
I would be a lightbulb in a house well for you
to keep you from freezing and more grandiosely
if I were a pagan architect, I would erect a temple
with pillars of fire for you that even time
when its hair grows out like solar flares
couldn’t pull down in a fury of indignant ions.
There would be no lack of heretics, martyrs,
or Norse gods to sing in your flames
because they would have finally found something
greater than their solipsistic selves to sacrifice to
that consumes them with devotion
axially aligned with you. And wherever you walked
true north would be under your feet.
As it is I follow you like an oriflamme
in a pageant of longing I will not be ransomed from.
And even if the court jester to the queen
isn’t the grand marshal that gets to carry it,
the one who rides first in the wake of your love,
his armour burning like a mirror of your reflected fire,
I have raised a small banner of blood
on the lance of a thorn the white knights
would think was laughably burlesque
were it not for the fact that it pours out of a dragon’s eyes
like the eclipse of a black rose in tears
igneously bleeding in the darkness
to temper its fangs like swords it remits in tribute,
from a burning bridge of fireflies,
to the solitary river of the unhonoured waters of the moon.