— FOR R.
Do numbers count? Exactly how much
is the anniversary
of a mystery? When I finished school
with a diploma in you, we
took up all our time,
meaning those myriad minor-finer details
of How? Why? Where? What? Who?
hardly ever made even half a lip-print on memory.
Those first few Eden leaves grew up largely
unnoticed — seamless
and quite ruly — there
where loving makes a living out of dearth,
in all its forms . . .
In the three spheres,
in the nine heavens,
in the eighteen unspeakably shameless hells
it is you-you-you
whom I with my triple hammered stutter
call SOLE and SINGLE WONDER of the WORLD.
To write in sickly pink ink
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
on a plain lethal war-drone
and to decorate your message
with clumsy, childish sketches
of a wrapped beribboned gift,
of sky-high starburst fireworks,
of a bulbous, cartoon bomb (BOOM)
and to fire it in the direction
of ice-cold-blooded civilian manslaughter,
before pulling in your mind’s eye’s mirror
that all-too-humanly inhuman face.
The rain has no space in it for hopelessness
or hope — its tactile
spells away everestless longing for elsewhere’s
president drift. Drop
it is the one identical tranquil outpour,
gentle beyond the creep of thought,
An empty bedroom heard through rain
is what sleep’s marvellous nervous system must sound like from within,
if we could sleep and wake —
both listening and lucid —
in exactly the same time.
I had my hair cut last week right here on the stone veranda.
a diligent wattlebird
strand by strand
extracts the scattered silver filaments
I find it heartening to think
that this soft
most dispensable part of myself
could help Spring’s best, next brood
a fraction less harshly out into this world.
One day you will wash your hands
of their grip — no more grasping,
clenching, holding on
and on for dear life.
Smooth out your palms in that otherworldly water
“And so, where did they go to,
my fists?” In Winter,
rinse them under the bathroom’s warm tap,
while in Summer dip them if you can in some cool pool
or in the salt marine green
of a sea.
A brand-nude world will meet you at your fingertips —
feel your hands heal;
feel them hale,
whole; and remember the colossal
agile whale, she whose heart is neither here nor there
and who hoards to the end
not one drop in her giant fins.
I’m enamoured of a contour made by the mind
when it comes to an understanding. A woman with query
in her voice is gratefully enlightened
by an answer from her friend. O, she says,
and her O riddles its way through extravagant intonation,
rising steeply — in imitation of strong doubts —
then falling buoyant with relief
back to clarity’s sand floor.
I thought: She might have been standing in ocean
up to her armpits, first elevated by a transit wave
against gravity, before allowing herself to be dropped —
thrilled and informed — back in a fresh calm’s certified wake.
Vaguely you notice they do not square:
these flying mobile sources in your atmosphere
at emotion’s outermost alien-edge.
Enigmatic points of no return,
they fleet a second or two across distracted nerves,
never ever leaving memory.
You only know they’ve been,
not what they matter — Unidentified Feeling Objects
for something you won’t be yet
or for a thing crowded complacency —
like a colony of sea-birds on a jagged cliff —
perpetually in its chatter overlooks,
but where, normally, you cannot listen
their keener tuning in you half-divines
sub-audible fossil water’s undertones.
Loving so close to dying,
she cannot help but look everywhere at us doubly,
distinctly in two ways —
as creatures who must come to their own mode of life
just as best as they can;
and with something else
indescribably ultraviolet to language,
drenched in the torrent
of so much unbearably poignant —
finite — human being.
Not for a second could she make light of death, ever
and yet what is it we sense
in her gaze,
in her voice
in the tones of her lucid grace
if not some fundamental GRAVITY
bedazzling the mind’s eye?
Here am I,
in my own small way.
On sunny days,
I make sure I spend plenty of fresh-air-time
with my other — wilder — brother,
we go our separate ways wherever we happen
to please ourselves. But
when Cloud is King,
I am the one reduced to shade,
for hours at a time in one and the same place,
while he steps in
where I left off: thrilled by those three —
or four — or five dimensions
as he sets off in search of that wholler, humaner, humankinder world.
And if I’ve told him once,
I’ve told him a thousand times:
“If you find it, brother, remember:
JUST AS SOON AS YOU CAN PLEASE COME BACK FOR ME!”