Sunday, February 10, 2013



I can still see you shining, and when was it ever not so,
like last night’s stars, sacred syllables
lingering in your voice like broken mirrors of ice
and you so badly wanting to fly above it all,
to burn like a draconian firefly that healed its heart
with a blow torch that welded you back together again
with scars of gold, to prove how intensely pure you were.

And you were o yes you were so serious,
amazingly beautiful, no one laughed,
when they saw the extremes of scorching honesty
with yourself and others you were willing to go to
to be worthy of the excruciations of your art,
and deeper than that, something you knew
was there in the dark by the weight of its eyes upon you
like a stranger with a spirit of bells that meant you no harm.

Of you, I wrote, my muse is lovelier than any running doe
because it was true and there was no other way of putting it
that didn’t blunt the shining, that didn’t cheat the rose,
that you inevitably didn’t when you were the new moon
and I was wholly in love with you like a total eclipse.
Yes, I remember how there was always more dark bliss
in the gifts of pain I received from you than I,
and you know how hard I tried to give back,
ever returned to you like a sacred grove of nightbirds.

You showed me the diamonds in the abyss of my inadequacies.
You were the peer of the mystery of yourself,
a black savage, one third deadly nightshade,
two thirds nocturnal orchid and there was nothing
strategic about your magic compared to mine.
That made you a greater sorceress than I was ever a wizard.
For me the birds sang, but you could hear the sky weeping
for things I’m still trying to understand about compassion.

When I think of the passage of beauty, you’re always
one of the last wildflowers of the fall, sometimes
the starclusters of the New England asters, others,
the last pilot light to go out on the blueweed
or one of those rare times, as I sense this is now,
I’m attending a seance of waterlilies that are trying
to call you back to life like an echo in a housewell
at four in the first October morning we spent on the farm
and were startled awake by the ghost of a white horse
drumming on the well cap in the moonlight
glowing in the frost on the ground, as if we were
both enlightened like two eyes at the same window,
burning in awe of the vision we shared together,
knowing the ensuing silence was more than enough
to attest to the truth of it like a secret that wasn’t meant for words.

Just as this isn’t, after so many lightyears
of remembering you like one of the great joys of life
that cast the longest shadows of the most poignant sorrow
to haunt me for the rest of my life like a wound
even the scar tissue of the moon can’t keep me
from flowing out of like the source of the Nile before Egypt.

God, how I wish every time I reached out for you
the stars didn’t burn my hands like snowflakes and doves.
There must be some other way to kiss the spirit
of evanescent things without putting your lips
to a sacred fire in an ice-age as if you were kissing
the head of an oracular snake like the eyelid
of a lover you were trying to wake from a dream
that lasts forever like a garden you’ve been shut out of
because you’re still alive, and foolish enough to love
what can’t be helped or forgotten because it’s gone.

After the storm surge, in the gleaming facets of sunshine,
death dries its outspread wings like a turkey vulture
at the top of the totem of a pine that’s been broken by lightning
and you lose your faith in the thunderbirds of aquiline evergreens.
At least, I did for awhile, looking up at the stars alone
at twenty below, impossibly trying not to accuse the gods
of anything they didn’t mean, as I grew
colder than liquid nitrogen on the inside, and my tears
shattered like crystal stalactites in an ice storm,
or sublimated into wraiths of dry ice I exorcised
too dead inside to be haunted by your memory just yet,
than any void I’ve ever tried to fly through like space
as it was turning into glass. This, too, will pass is not always true.

Eventually the wind stopped snarling like a barnyard dog
as I began letting go of you, and the pain thawed,
and the hawks were unlocked from their aviaries of ice
in one long shriek of liberation that tore my heart like a talon
because my grief was the last of you I had to hang on to
and I couldn’t use the permafrost as an excuse
not to properly bury my dead where they’d asked me to,
as I did you, facing east toward the lustreless black pearl
of the new moonrise of my heart on the threshold
of a black hole as if I had nothing left to lose but loss itself.

And who could have imagined that time would cling to me
as it has, a habit that distinguished it from eternity
like fresh water from the salt? Or I could be so exalted
to that palace of stars your spirit took up residence in
like a squall of fireflies the wind played with like chimney sparks
from the dead furnace of this house of life we once lived in together?
The morning glory’s overgrown the gate. The palings
of the fence I built are down like nights and days
crossed off in a calendar. The window we looked through
is smashed. The housewell lost in the rising tides
of the wild grasses learning to write on the wind.

And that last painting of yours you gave me,
all those truncated trees, lepers and amputees
grotesquely gathered on an island in a bay
you lavished in soft placental violets and greens,
Persian silks, and auroral saris for mutilated mannequins,
I left on the wall of your studio like some kind of seal
on the place breaking up like Pangea into
continents of plaster. I pried it loose from the ice
of a snowbank slumped in the corner opposite
that small open window you stared out at the world through
like a portrait in a picture-frame I’m still trying to get right,
and I hung it back up counter-intuitively as I imagined
you would have done, something incomprehensively beautiful
and strangely evocative of a gesture suggestively perfected
like a long misunderstood labour of love, masterfully abandoned.




I’ve grown old remembering you when you were young.
How much wiser we were then though we didn’t know it
than I am now, or you would have been, had you lived.
Ignorant of the outcome of desire, sometimes it’s better
to drown, than learn to keep your head above water, or swim.
I made a liferaft of my bones to get to the other side
of my heart. Like the moon, one half bright, the other, dark.

I’ve knocked on so many doors the past left ajar,
but for a long time you never answered.
Looked into so many eyes so far from home,
hoping to catch a glimpse of your shadow
moving past the window like a waterbird backlit by the moon,
and though some of them had your mouth, some, your hair,
some your earlobes hung with silver chandeliers of rain
falling from your wings like a broken rosary of waterdroplets,
none of them had your soul, none were as lost
and inimitable as you unanswerably were.

Street rose, how is it my tears are still pierced by your thorns
after all these years? Out of the midnight blue,
without warning, idling among the river reeds,
or rooted in the wavelengths of the mindstream, some star
spears me through the heart like a fish on the barb of the moon
and I have to sit down among the rocks at the water’s edge
with a vision of beauty and love and the passage of time
too unbearably immense for flesh and blood to carry
like so many other empty buckets and sad bells back
from the abandoned wishing wells where the ghosts gather
to recall what it was like to want something once.

Long for someone so badly you would gladly
have endured a thousand spiritual deaths and metaphoric rebirths
as I have done, for one life of being wounded and healed,
exalted and terrified by the mystery of what or who
you truly loved like the eclipse of a moonrise in your blood
more indelibly than death itself appears in the black mirror
when you look deeply into it like a starmap of music
as your last futile hope of bringing someone back
and your eyes freeze like star sapphires deep underground
with what they see like fireflies and lightning in the sockets
of prophetic skulls whose eyes are the jewels of the dead.

Perpetual muse, you, unnamed, who distinguish my words still
with the intimacy of your absence, daughter of the abyss
I was left with when you lost your nerve and collapsed
like a suspension bridge over the moonlit thread
of your spine below when the safety web broke like the illusion
of a dreamcatcher, like the beads of the constellation
the sun belonged to when we first encountered each other
like alien planets driven out like black sheep of the solar system
and looked back at its dwindling light from a long way off
and knew of a certainty, you were, as was I,
alone in this remote space with each other,
estranged companions for life. Was it not so,
and has it not always been in its own unique way as it is now?

Between your silence and my voice have we not evolved
a dream grammar by which the living can speak to the dead?
Do I not hear you in the broken-hearted train whistle
mourning into the distance with no help for its sorrow
and in the long mantra of the wind in the aspens
and the gaping mouths of the waterlilies awed
by the symmetrical similarity of their astonished silence
to that of the stars looking ahead in wonder
at what they’ve been flowering into for lightyears.

Long after your ashes were scattered with beautiful sentiments
mingled like rose water in every one’s tears
to bless the flightpath of a fire bird’s return to the elements
from a precipitous cliff out over the sea at night
as if we weren’t saying farewell to a woman who had lived
like one of us, but were attending the sky burial of a comet
who had made a Tunguskan impact on everyone she encountered,
was it not me, when all the other listeners
thought they’d heard the whole of the message you had to say
and left you alone in the dark in an empty hall
that first perplexing night of being dead among the stars,
who went on listening to your omens as if there
could never be an end of the flames and feathers of meaning
that unfolded in the wake of your passage across
the desolate seas and annulled atmospheres of my lunar heart?

What pain, what joy, grief, loss, enlightenment,
life in death and death in life have I not endured,
what loneliness not embraced as if it were
more deeply exiled from everything it had ever known
than I was when I blew out the last candle of votive fire
like a broken dragon missing one its own in its reclusive solitude?

Even the ashen sages weep like urns of wisdom
for the extinction of the light that taught them
to see in the dark with a compassionate heart
that insight walks the same path delusion does
and attachment, too, is another paling of moonlight
on an open gate that all humans must pass through
to pay homage to the fountains and watersheds
love brings to flower in their gardens and cemeteries alike.

Many times I’ve sensed your tenderness in the sensitivities
of the carillons of wild columbine that rang
discretely in the silence like rain chimes in the spring
and I came to understand it was you, whenever
I wandered along the river like a troubled sleepwalker
through the mystic cults of the woods at night
into a clearing like the third eye of the torrent
that roared all around me like a wounded black hole,

it was you in the sanctuary of your concealment who revealed
that thoughts and emotions like the unsanctified oceans
of tormented stars I wanted to drown in, weren’t
static states of mind where space turns brittle
as the looking glass you get locked into,
but dynamic events of the heart that shatter
our crystal skulls into unknown configurations of light
rising like new constellations out of the regenerative chaos
that watered the old gardens of our starmaps
with the splinters of broken chandeliers that cut our eyes
like tears in an early spring thaw. It was you
as surely as it was the clear light of the void within me
who whispered to me that night I was on the verge
of liberating the past from the future of a bad precedent
that we don’t live separately from the dead,
that each of us is the embodiment of the longing
of unnumbered myriads who released their hopes
and dreams and prayers like smoke and birds
and cedar boughs of incense on the wind
knowing they probably wouldn’t be there
to hear the answer if one ever did come back again.

Where else but now is the future made manifest
by the summons of the past in a voice
we recognize as everyone’s including yours and mine?
Just as I see your eyes in this insight like the occult bliss
of the dawn at midnight writing immanental love lyrics
in the journals of nocturnal wildflowers confiding in the moon.