Walking alone in
a new city last night,
I saw two rabbits hunched in a copse of trees,
and the only thing I could think to think was,
“I want so much for this to mean I can stay.”
There's only so much deconstruction one can
take before everything starts to make sense—
an airport, some traffic, anxiety, songs,
then a room where someone goes and says it: love.
Of all the flowers you could've chosen, you
went and chose a handful of orange poppies
from the field in which I'm neither sorry
nor ashamed to've sat with you in Autumn.
Sometimes you just sheer get lost in the pictures
you've designated memory, the postcards
you've labeled motives, etymology, light,
a mirror, three lemons, his face, an orchard.
What pushes through vacancy to waking life
doesn't struggle as much as it hurts awhile
in its trying, 'til a knowing arrives as
two green leaves beside each other on canvas.
I keep saying, “It's as if I'm speaking just
next to something to someone who's almost gone,”
and you keep telling me you can't understand,
though you don't give up or leave—you keep talking.
Somewhere in New York the clouds are behaving
in a way that suggests snow, the silos near
the city's lakeshore a kind of wall against
good cold's inevitable muscle and brain.
I remember reading We are to collect
nothing in a poem that was written here
five years before I was born, and now I'm here
with nothing but some clothes and books to my name.
In 1983, A.R. Ammons wrote
of long uninteresting walks—“Momentous
and trivial, I / walk along the lake cliff”
is how he phrased it in Lake Effect Country.
I walk to remember the way the light was
when it first broke out of some structure, saying,
“This is a house in which you will never live
always waiting for whatever's in your blood.”
If I could hold off the landscape that's trying
to kill me, or if I could force the day out
of my mind long enough to attempt reason,
maybe then I could stand to watch love approach.
The truth is, you know as well as I know that
I don't know how to hold my mouth in pictures,
the only way I can think is with my hands,
and whatever I was before hearing's gone.
A paper airplane made from a train schedule—
this isn't how I wanted to think of you
for whom I measure myself against each word.
So goodbye from the meanwhile's wait-and-see drag.