|Jul/Aug 2009 Poetry|
The Vivid Stream
Who found you, father, on the bathroom
floor that night? Sunk. An upturned
tanker spilling blood like oil, making
runny maps on green ceramic tiles.
I washed stains on hands and knees.
Nothing would scare me again.
Here, suspended on the banks
of an anxious river, pepper climbs
the dark. Cricket cries scythe
through grass. A burst of stars overhead
like pearls in the sky—it's a sticky kind
of peace. I'm thinking of you
though I'm pretending to read.
Back in the city, I wrap my ears
around other people's thoughts
and cradle love in my hands
like a bruised bird. My words swirl
like smoke in my mouth.
You required energy. I have nowhere
to spend it now. I miss the discipline
of worship, the head slicing
cleanly through air to drop
at someone's feet, the hands
which turn to jasmine,
the bent body.
Smelling their way up walls, do they file details,
each crest and dent, the topography
of upswing? I kneel in soil, watch their veins
blue the dark, imagine damp skin-quiver
under luminous crusts. I want to become
one of them—compact, hermaphrodite,
fixated on the single goal, gliding easily
over sharp objects. Perennial innocents
with a mantra of slowness, they never seem
to doubt their hump-backed ascent.
Do oracles guide their feet? I too want
to lose the addiction of speed, be as certain.