You Used To Be Somebody's Daughter
And now word comes he ratchets,
day and night, between the savage sleep
of morphine and the ravaging cancer
that drives through his body
in the finest red carriage
in town: make way. . . .
You are the clenched fist
at the far edge of the world, unclenching
into sorrow, into an old hard love
for him that skitters, in fits
and starts, like old film
on a jittering reel.
September's sycamores have surrendered
their gold, but what is sufficient to ransom you
home again now? You are a snarled line, tangled
twine, lone sign-post to hell—this way, this way—
water of undetermined depth
and its warning.
The pond is quieting now and rimed with ice.
You could row all day over it and still end up right
where you started, like a novel that closes, And then
the alarm clock went off, same dull reminder
that this life is a story you tell yourself
but the story is not your life.
The languid river of summer runs
autumn-slow tonight, and the slight
amethyst of October's first light startles
the horizon, like a leper's bell in the market,
and that good thief, Death, will arrive.
That much cannot be undone.
The river's lesson tonight is the wanderer's
lesson of passing through and returning home.
Only the river is possible now. Real or imagined,
it matters not, except that you get there soon.
Invent the river; invent the boat; invent
the anchor, lifting.
How Like Love The Night Sky Is
There's Venus: first light
of these bitter, windswept February nights,
loitering there under the waning and waxing
moon, a lesser light. But she'll be
elsewhere soon and he, that fickle
moon, will go on as before,
bright with borrowed light.
And now, as if the world itself
were not enough to break our hearts,
outside the wobbling rubble of time and space,
some indifferent thing is traveling
ceaselessly towards us
and damned if anyone can tell
what it is, or its intention for us.
Let others call it as they see it:
black hole, End-of-Days, the Great Unmaking.
Let's call it reaping and sowing, Love,
hair of the dog that bit us once,
the grenade of any almost-
ordinary day: pin pulled
and the whole thing waiting to blow.