MASTERS OF THE CANTE JONDO
They were beside me,
they sat in black taffeta, in veils, leather chaps,
felt hats, lace. “Closer” they call, “closer.”
“And my body I give to you,” “my body
I would betray for you.” The sun akimbo
to the plated horizon sinks, a goblet moon
above sea slowly rises.
If we could talk: “Moon,” I’d say,
“your light’s too elegant, too old, useless.
In it, I could brush my donkey, polish apples,
sew nets. You are strong and ay, I have
already begun to fray.”
I’m past the mid-haven,
have heard your stories, have seen the bark
twist into a face, the bole of wood speak,
have seen the leaves run along the river’s edge,
I was beside me as architecture,
solid as a house, a hovel made of sticks,
a shack whose chimney is a cloud at dusk,
a broken shack stove in by a single vista,
a room where countenance continues to fall,
a retinue of hair.
There were words in the garage
broken against anvils, in pieces.
There was a forge, flames from a coal oven.
In the dream there were broken windows,
mold on walls, green light from brush, from trees.
It was summer, late in the day, and the banging.
The hammer and anvil rocked a rhythm,
rocked and rang throughout the forest.
You had come from a far place,
a desert, I knew this from your eyes.
You mapped a diagram with grease
to explain the history of that place.
It was a structure-
cactus flowers, lipstick
the dry scent of sand,
sage and everywhere
The day was the day we kissed,
the sky, bent for always
and a disc of fire warmed us.
There was narrative, a future,
screen doors and pickups,
a dirt-shimmied vista.
Things as they are-
upon a time
and goes like this.
“I know where you are because I knows
where the sun is”
In all its disguises
Says the open mouth-agape
By the time of this speech
The original has vanished
Without promising emancipation
The sound is a body
This sound is my body
“And my body”
What ground is this?
“I would give to you”
“And my body”
At whose table are we called to order?
“I would betray for you”
And what about order?
“Say it is nameless”
That we are nameless
and the shape of our walk become pages
become pavement underfoot
and overhead nothing, so clear that it
might finally break us, and that is good
The great-coats walk by, let them
To walk, was walking, in the capitol
a hand composing in air, in rain
was raining, on sheets, notes dissolved
into pools, tides unsettling a coin
at the bottom of the cistern.
And so to you
a song, a palm open to the elements:
Is there a score for the treatise
you compose in rain
for the voice as it comes
out of blankness
Tell of the way
light enters your rooms, quiet
alone with your book
in your book, friend
it is raining,
a broken line
by sparrows at dusk
invisible against dusk
Many days since this letter, I want to report
I have seen the seeds outside my factory open,
have seen the door to my apartment broken,
heard footsteps by the window,
tasted the small charge of power, which is bitter.
“At sunrise I saw a fire, I have it to live.”
“And I can never believe how much
I want you. I can never believe it.”
It is late. The cicadas make a racket in my ear.
What will they sing, say of our words. Shaping dust,
a room out of air, an empty room, a room
whose breeze is only song, a body when no one sees it.