I bump my elbow hard
on the fount of pleasure.
Brilliant porcelain, the letter-gram,
the musical enclosure,
the delicacy of fingers
and Wagnerian excess.
The sweat runs down my back.
I lift my arms in mock salute.
Stones with leaden eyes.
The pine-wood perfume.
In love with water,
I break in water.
Into the river I stagger,
looking for the original,
my intentions inky and animated.
I spoke about you
in my interview
in the guise of James
Merrill because you’re part
of my outright strangeness.
The committee smiled at my hair.
They touched my Neptunian pearls,
blue-gray in evening.
The gray wool 60s suit pressed the night before.
The reeds swayed in the moonlight.
I felt Fellini’s hand brush my skirt.
The ride home, uneventful.
Polluted riverbanks carrying cow
and insects, sticks burr-ripped into black.
I stripped off the wool
for a black leotard.
I felt my spirit
uplifted by hard work,
the concentration of spirit-water,
from plain water.
The car pulsed with air—
switch-events along the Roman road,
hiding perverts and sex offenders.
Lucite skin, my sister’s face
shone as her own.
Insects grew wings.
Wild with sadness, with longing,
I am wide with loss.
I am lost
in the small openings
of my vision.
Is that a feather? Tin or aluminum.
A man-made bird blind
unheated in winter
gives no water,
but the turkey struts
in the leafy bush,
allowing us the pleasure.
Fighting before dinner and then
fighting afterwards, why
when a greater wing of bats whistle-sweep
the trees above our heads, lovely going,
herbs de Provence
perfume our hands
in lavender, the possibility that our whole bodies
might be perfumed by work—
a small tart with a savory crust.
And after that, trespasses with the feet, it never stops,
discharge of rushing stream,
never the same spot twice.
The pot of boiling water steaming up
the pantry window, if I cook, you clean?
If you clean, I cook?
Never the same spot twice—
the rocks gleam.
Purified by a long matchstick, the pile is
relit. The pile burns
in smokestack, smokesense,
toking the sense of the difficult.
Pile it on, see what I see: Tight-tipped,
the radiators close in heat, excess water
wringed from rags
drops of alcohol
fall on your cheek
though I care for you
the way my mother would, her hand
replacing my hat— a reservoir of goodwill
put out of joint, displaced
luxury and mourning in the same cup
is the bat living bloody in your nose.
What’s already a tradition—
a cherry tree in relief, and barking dogs
skinny with the knowledge of prairie.
Many flocks of loving sheep.
Many, many flocks
of loving sheep.
I slept in Ravenna alone
leaving my boyfriend in London.
Strands of horsehair
placed on Dante’s tomb.
My friend, my amulet, my new melody farewell.
Dancing in piles of cloth
that won’t even last ten washings,
the connection festooned
with fabled smoke,
often tall brogan from bounty mecca.
Don’t be afraid of things because they are easy.
Your clothes are wet, my hands are cold, cold
fish bones lodged in my throat.
Plunge bath, sauna, sauna bath, hummum, hot tub, Turkish bath,
Finnish bath, Jacuzzi, Russian bath,
Japanese bath, Scandinavian steam bath,
annihilation bath. Bereavement bath.
Steam bath, sweat bath, steam room, whirlpool.
Tomb of water. Afterlife.
Eternal rest. Paradise.
I like this life, oblivion
the same thousands of years ago.