THE SILENCE BEGUILING
The silence beguiling. The solitude almost perfect.
The stillness of the silver Russian olives almost
a warning suspended in the air, but nothing to fear
issued as a threat if I don’t move from here
where I’m squatting on the outskirts of the cities
of the dead, for a night, just a night, passing through.
I don’t know where. As if that mattered anymore.
The trees shedding their leaves like travel brochures.
Sixty-five. Getting on. Root-fires still burning
underground. Never wanted to be one of the grey mages
of poetry. Bringing gifts fit for heaven or hell
to the firepits of the mangers in ashes. A mediocre
harvest moon, but the heart of the dragon is heavy
with low hanging fruit the darkness and the moon made sweet.
O, let it fall back to earth if it wants to. Any star
will do to start a journey. Not far to go. Not far at all.
Ingathered within me the sorrows of a lifetime.
And the small joys I take in life I cling to in protest.
Lust a delusion I’m all too familiar with
still gets a rise out of me, and love, the elusive collusion
of the stars and mud I’m made of, manifest
flesh and blood, these eyes, these fingertips,
this voice that sings of supernovas and fireflies
in the same breath and the pause that is neither
life nor death in between, where nothing exists
but, once and awhile, love writes a name
in the mist on the ineffable windowpanes
in a symbolic attempt to spiritualize the abyss.
Love the wise, the beautiful, the true. Love
the ignorant, the unlovely, and the false.
Union and separation, the pulse of the mystery
that appalls us into seeking what cannot fail
to find us once we stop looking for redemption
from the fools we make of ourselves in the name
of an absurdity higher than the flames of the flowers
that bloom in fire, and the stars above our pyres
can reach, though the gesture’s not lost upon
the unattainable. We fall in love with the unsustainable
as we do with our own perishing. Lovers fail,
like poets, dying into the mystery they most excel at
as if they had a painful talent for compassionate death.
It’s the loss of love that makes love indelibly mortal.
Not to have failed at love is to have lived your life
worthlessly as a hungry ghost who thought death
was less of a risk than losing more than you had to give.
The moth didn’t come close enough to the fire
to burn its wing like a love poem going up in flames.
Immolated in flames or cremated by shadows
in the cold furnace of a heart that refused to burn.
You can see it in the soft eyes of an old man
on an autumn afternoon sitting like a scarecrow
on a park bench feeding the birds the crumbs of his dreams
as if they were both gleaning the same garden.
Love is sustained by the grains of starwheat
it’s already lavishly spent on a harvest of sorrows
sweeter than a silo full of promising tomorrows
as if love, not death, were the only way of being
successfully defeated by life with a smile on your face
as deep as any wound you’ve ever been graced by.