M. P. Powers
3 a.m., in Wedding, and the wet streets gleam like blown glass;
trees in a broad current appear to be sailing off.
A heavy truck idles at a gate,
A shadow climbs out.
3 a.m., in a phosphorescence among sunflowers,
devoured by peacocks
and grey wolves
and the voice in the walls.
The sky swirls with glaze-green tidepools, a ring of Nibelungs,
gliding fires and no sign of dawn.
3 a.m in a building of dark halls, locked doors
of old leaky plumbing and betrayal,
of tiny rooms where people are asleep, like caterpillars
in the rainforest,
dreaming of peril and fertility.
I lie down on my lumpy duvet amid the hiss of glowing radiators,
jars of walnut oil and turmeric,
images floating across the room:
a Peruvian mask, a coral shell
necklace of light,
The windows of the soul crackle with blue
EDELSTOFF & C.
No hot water in the shower, taking bird baths
with a bucket, living off spätzle and bacon
and Edelstoff beer. I've got a few months
to come up with something. In the meantime, the sun grows
larger, and days and days go by: trains, faces, slow evolution.
Barefoot on my balcony, the rough stone cool beneath
my feet, the blossoming verdure over me; listening
to the birds carrying their blue airy notes
off to the edge of the sky, the soil-bound braying
of the Turkish vegetable salesman:
No job, no work visa yet, no use for tomorrow.
Today I've got two Edelstoffs on ice,
a sweaty one in front of me, the spätkauf's less
than a block away, and the music whirls
in the moist green air, like a crazed insect,
grazing my wrists, climbing up the back of my neck.
A crow's shadow glides between old buildings.
In those days, things kept dying around me.
A nightingale's song fell down in the brambles.
A whitefaced possum groped in through
The cat door one night, very late, found a quiet corner
In the kitchen, lay down and went upward
In the light, circling. A circle of light came down.
And the spot in the terrazzo floor became a mirage.
A nightingale's song tangled up in the brambles.
And then it was summer, and I kept waking up
In all these different beds, in all these magnificent
European cities, without you. I can't even
Remember our last hours, or saying
Goodbye. But in those days, as the old husk was
Pealing, a halo of honeybees swarmed my head,
And the light kept going out of me.
A nightingale's song dropped dead in the brambles.
You must've been looking for it.
At least you were told you were. Nah, that's not true.
You knew you were, and you know you will again.
And you know
you'll never find it.
Not in Berlin, Budapest, Cascais,
the pearly lagoons
of the Maldives; not in the yulcey strains of poesy,
nor the storm-fueled
fantasies of Rachmaninoff.
You knew it'd never be yours, and yet
you went looking anyway,
and you will again. And then again,
one day, when the music drifts out of your bones,
as it must,
the shadow of a mandala, a dove, a cross,
some godforsaken symbol
will turn up say above your fireplace, or on the floor
of the bathroom,
and you never really had anything more.
SAN FRANCISCO: FEBRUARY, 2000
An old, dimly-lit hotel room, the shadow of a broken chair trembling on the wall, and all goes silent. We hardly even know each other, but there's much depending on this: eleven years of heartsickness, laughter, bad movies, housework, cats, dogs, soft kisses and departure. Is the foreboding in the amazingly intricate spiderweb in the corner with no spider in it? Is it in the way the mattress sags as if in despair? It's the unspoken things: the qin string freyed, allegro fugato. She turns the light off, rests her head on my chest; I turn the radio on. And through a darkness so monstrous and alive it almost seems to breathe, an old, dead country singer sings about love, love, love, that ancient raven everyman's story whose ending is always the same.