Poems from 1997


In early fall of 1996 I met Jim, and we got married in July of 1997. Of course I have written poems to and about him, but on the whole I have to say that the original burst of happy love inspired me to do other things besides writing.



Why sneer at the dinosaur
with its acorn brain
when our memory too runs thick
up the cord of the spine?
All those fingering nerves
that stretch towards extremity.

We are made of archaic organs
of storage: the inside of the thigh,
for instance, still printed precisely
with the shape of your hip,
its exquisite temperature
since yesterday morning.



I want to go to the dancers' place,
wear my shoes crooked on the white tile
and borrow a picture scarf from the wall --
with my shopgirl's manner
and my farmer's daughter's face.
That stiffness about the arms
keeps the diffidence of generations,
but I want to breathe deep
and even release;

those hunched shoulders
mean to conjure fate and shed
any rain,

but for once I want
to stand tall and straight
and tempt the lightning.



Last night my lover called me by your name.
He was sorry that next second, it just
slipped out, like a cat too long indoors.
Ex for Exciting, right? Do you guess he does it?

The tongue's a sponge: the other names,
the other tastes that intervene
when I would like to beg for a caress.
Perhaps you're wiser -- as a ghost
you're the deepest mistress, unbeloved
and unforgettable.

With all the best intentions
I'm still a thin ice layer cooling
over a lifetime of desires,
I'd so like to drink from this deep well
where pebbles drop and splash --

and I'm unconsoled by the vanished heroes of my past
whose names I don't recall, faithless as I am.



The king of the sea lured me down
into green glass. I've always loved
swimming, and th esilver peal
of rising bubbles. Sound travels
four times faster underwater, he sai.
He knows all the physical laws
in this emotional element.

And anyway, the time had come,
the magic was due: you can't sit
counting millet grains forever
to amass some small and simple reward,
some ordinary marriage.

It must be a year since the sun stood there.
I see its face above his drowned city,
I consider the bells of cathedrals
and the bleating flocks, the grains
that might have sprouted.



let me dance for you,
conceal my limbs
in a veil of motion,
let me change my shape
and become a single
sinuous line -- let me
rise and fall (onto you)
and you won't recall
what day it is
or what name
my flying hair sems red
in the unsteady light --
oh you'll want me
once you forget

let me remake us both
in some other space

I'll reel in the orbit
all the sweet ellipses
from elbow and hip
and the comet blooming
as she rises
into your heat and light
out of infinite distance

movement is time,
my friend, and somewhere
I'll be balancing near you
forever, even after you
remember and shake your head
and stagger off the floor
back to stiffness
and regret


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