POEMS

MORNING LIGHT


Without mention of blossoms
Milosz gets the tree in the poem from translucent to laden with fruit.
Years passed, not months, while he slept,
and that tree must have flowered many times.

In the same way, we turn over mid-dream
or after love, those beautiful hours
we know were passed in the company of genius
but have forgotten in the particulars.

We know the tree stands for promise
and for the desire, which comes much later, for atonement.
We stand at the west-facing window
and let the buildings opposite turn gold, then back to brick.
 


CRUISE
   
Blue again. A little darker today, and more rippled, I think, but it’s easy to lose track. I punch my pillow, even though the room attendants will tidy everything while we’re at brunch, boring ourselves blind with reiterations.

Riveted to the wall above the bed, a portrait of our ship on the occasion of her launch years ago. Bouquets the size of my mother’s house. Champagne in fountains. Outfits like the plumage of tropical birds. Not a child in sight, though that doesn’t mean, of course, there weren’t any.

Where in the world do we come from? We drift around – oh, we do, call it what you will. Navigating the navigable, ignoring the rest,

except when we glimpse over a rail on our way again to the dining room, on the horizon or through a rift in the blue curtain, a shining quickness, like something we recall we’d been meaning to do.
 



TWO BIRCHES
  
The oak floor remembers our first waking,
our padding across it to the terrace doors,

the fertile pungency of leaf-mould leaking in
over the threshold. Rising from the port,

river-sludge and the ships' sharp fuels.
In such sharpness the two birches from childhood

rise as though through liquid and solid light,
the sky foliate and dangling. Inscribed in their bark,

the forest romance: expeditions downriver
to the confluence, drinking the cold

twig-syrup. Going barefoot outside
more than a few minutes

even at the height of summer
is a dream. We build temples to it.

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