– February 1, 2011
I hear your voice. It circles scarlet leaves
that scatter on the back of midland farms.
You hum through unexpected nights where eaves
of sparrow-songs are dandled in cool arms
and fold like the ascendancy of dusk
across the day. You wander over stars
bringing a tune of tuberose and musk
beneath my sill, then curl between the bars
of my wrought-soul, where everything is rocked
by savage lullabies that wake remorse.
I lose your voice. Andromeda has locked
it in a cage of stars, there is no force
that can release it from her mottled gleam,
left for another springtime to redeem.
Had you but sacrificed one lilac
from an unpruned tree, or smoothed the knotted
curls from my face with your bedraggled hand;
had you but crushed a leaf of lavender
and poured a thimble full of balm into my mouth,
like some elixir
from an ancient land; or sprinkled down
the clumsiest of sighs into my hands.
Had you but arched your eyebrow
like a dying willow branch
across a muddy pond—in one last shade-song
to the minnow near the rocks,
or slipped through untamed gardens
in the august heat, a breath-depriving feat,
without a single rest upon a bluebell rim.
Had you but wrapped your head in orchids,
sung to troubled sky larks without chanting
curses at the bougainvillaea thorns—
I would not had to write this verse.
This poem, cobbled up from twisted twigs,
that scrapes the feathered whispers
of my throat. This moulted, metered thing,
that taps inside me like a suffocating wing.
I would not have to listen
to these syllables that parrot out my days
and flap their somberness against
a rib cage of had yous.
You stand erect in that old photograph,
a sago palm bends sated with the breeze
and Hotel Del, her rooftops peaked in red,
is clad in white behind a row of trees.
This is the way is see you, still. Your eyes
with lash-rimmed corners that turn slightly down,
your fine jaw line, which I envision through
a weave of yesteryear’s—a floating crown
of daisy thoughts, both frail and light. A vine
that burgeons tendril memories of you
on summer soil, where darkness never yields
a single bud releasing an adieu.
Another wintry day has come to close.
Across the fields and valleys it resigns,
With daylight’s last rays falling in repose
Between the spreading sycamores and pines.
Tonight I do not rest; I count each star
Above me, as they light up, by and by,
Like fireflies left inside the sparkling jar
That is this evening’s cold majestic sky.
Eventually I shift my thoughts and see
The rooflines of the village down below,
And, scattered here and there, a lonely tree
Is waiting patiently for falling snow.
I ponder what the new year holds for me,
And hope the heavens don‘t think me remiss–
If I should pray my future years may be
As perfect as a day and night like this.