You say wind is only wind
and carries nothing nervous
in its teeth. I do not believe it.
I have seen leaves desist from moving
although the branches move,
and I believe a cyclone has secrets
the weather is ignorant of. I believe
in the violence of not knowing.
I’ve seen a river lose its course
and join itself again, watched it court
a stream and coax the stream
into its current, and I have seen rivers,
not unlike you, that failed to find
their way back. I believe the rapport
between water and sand, the advent
from mirror to face. I believe in rain
to cover what mourns, in hail that revives
and sleet that erodes, believe
whatever falls is a figure of rain,
and now I believe in torrents that take
everything down with them.
The sky calls it quits, or so I believe,
when air, or earth, or air has had
enough. I believe in disquiet,
the pressure it plies, believe a cloud
to govern the limits of night. I say I,
but little is left to say it, much less
mean it—and yet I do. Let there be
no mistake. I do not believe
things are reborn in fire.
I believe they’re consumed by fire,
and the fire has a life of its own.
Begins in interruption:
an ambulance bell at the center
of sleep, the room tilts
sideways, furniture slides,
an octet of amber blue
verres à liqueur, one with a cut
at the lip, clatters as a quaalude
light in tatters mattes the
is what I want to say
like a rocket
stocked from the Reagan
years, its radar gone haywire,
wiring fried but
live inside a bunker of some
Union you & I —
Giving up isn’t giving in, but a different kind of poverty
And if we didn’t mention them all in order, it wasn’t our fault:
Our strength gave out before the daylight tapered,
Schedules were strict, the weddings obliged to go forward
Even with strangers involved, and sisters and mothers of strangers,
Playing Russian roulette with five bullets coughed into the chamber
And swallow the razor and other old parlor games,
Keeping appointments with overcoats and nautical charts of the crime
While someone kept telling lies about factory bylaws, saying
Don’t be afraid, I have called you by name, you are mine
And almost believing it, a survivor peddling insomnia’s cure,
Calculating which bridges to burn, which heretics, which beds:
A package that never arrived from a mispronounced province
Or a lightswitch left on overnight at the back of the hall,
Rehearsing the wreckage of telegrams, padlocks, and skeleton keys
And storms on the coast with other betrayers to please.
Architecture it’s not, not even in winter.
Nor is it a draft of a river
to be put away for a lover to polish up later
after the nails have been paid. Nor
is it the finished thing
even if it has the look of a finished thing. In winter
but it is not winter, it’s almost a year ago. Water
that’s moving cannot be called a trigger
but almost a need. Our bodies are not architecture,
they’re moving, they have been put away by October.
A draft of an almost finished river
is not a crowblue cloud at the end of winter, but after
accounts have been paid, years later, a whisper
is polished up to have the look of architecture.
October has the look of a crow in a river. It’s a year
ago, our bodies are four-fifths water. Your
body is polished up to have the look of moving water.
Clouds are four-fifths of winter, but whatever
is almost crowblue or moving cannot be called architecture
or put away for our bodies to polish up later.
I did not say nails had been put away, or paid for
with our bodies’ whispered accounts. I did not say fever
or finished, or after; I did not call winter a need. I never
said I had been nailed to a river
even if you had the look of what’s already left.