And so at the
end of remembering,
pungency falls like grief. We walk
again: brittle walls of chalk,
a child's gray-white dream, the clamor
of persistent desire. See, sun lies
brittle on the tiles and iron gates.
Black wings hover. Voiceless, as we wait,
the stairways knot themselves,
smell of dry water steaming from blind
sockets in the
stone, where insects whine,
their maggots busy with decay, flies,
wasps, mosquitoes, midges, gnats. The poise
of silence hangs like an
parched. What are these gates? What are these walls?
torched these streets pulsing them flat.
Shadowless, they do not lie
the windows of our dreams. Instead, they slide
and snarl on
our nerves. We fear what?
the voicelessness of wind? dry ashes
scrape hot tongues dryly over dried
pores to crack lips in slivers of hard
blood? to freeze salt across our lashes
bringing no tears? Or is it that
fear the dust which crackles an eddy
at our feet to snare and pull
Or is it gray shadows, the bare-bone
dogs slinking behind
each gate, eyes with
ice white cores? They never bare their teeth.
Dogs are gray
with the sunlight's grease stiffly
slimed across their sharp and pulsing
They are raw bones and their tails are whips
which twitch in the
moment's rest as if
a command might slash their acrid bite
eyes. Meanwhile their eyes, like
uncertain stars pitted in the black
basins of night, are thirsty and white.
Like candles playing shadows across
dim courtyards, the dogs glide. Sleepless
they crack no voice to tear air
They slink in narrow circles and edge
the walls. Their
muscles twist and wait.
Why do they watch us from each locked gate?
weather vanes, gulls raucously
stare down, or sweep and glance off the
giant bats on the harbor's wall--stiff
weapons plunging the
ocean's wide face.
Silence is cut by their knife-slice cries
elastic pulled to its stinging break.
What is the menace their screams
curse perhaps? chaos? gouged out eyes?
Cowed beneath their
squall in the sky, we
wander through streets leading down. Gates
past our eyes. And walls shift like drapes.
At last before us waits the
flat in its bay like a trembling stone.
Our feet touch the
foaming of its tongue.
steep stones, tiers laid on a cliff,
shelves stacked up the chalk walls,
are blunt white.
They twist downward towards dizzier light,
lap of radiant stiff
sun-glare, water where gulls on poised wings
dive, then climb sky to cut it apart
until a violence of blue smarts
our trailing eyes and the white sun stings.
In what old dream have these
Why, like memories, do they beckon?
We long to silence
the screaming gulls
so nerves might plunge their zero of chill
through dark ocean's blank flat face,
dumb beneath its grinding grinding
But the ocean
grinds up bones for us
to finger, mute and calcined statues
hands, like memories that chew
time up, later to glare in the press
of the sun, glints of elsewhere, snapshots
of someone else's life gazing
from frenzied smiles, from glazed eyes. Like facts
them in our hands' small heat,
hard things tumbled from the breakers' lash,
ground and polished by the tide's slow wash,
flat and gleaming, like light
on a plate.
So within our nets of loss, we wait,
our own faces washed
to an ashen sheen,
wear the bleach of salt, the scorch of sun.
ocean spills sad aftermaths
upon our feet where eyes are searching.
Kelp and foam hold the harsh shapeless gong
of grief. We wish to mask our
lovely artifacts. But chaos floats
up as if burned in
limbs were gnarled by intense bombs
the sea was blistered
beneath a fierce heat
and the air's abruptly shattered time
its mutant to each pulse and
bone filling our footprints in the sand
where we stand with rancid bilge, green foam.
What begins begins already
to flower in pristine tender dread.
At last we
cast ocean's throb to our
backs; the village streets stand up before
our eyes on the cliffs, twisted, slender,
wind-chiselled, white. And
spines, houses hang like sharp hawk-skulls
down from their black hollow eyes.
Have we waited so long that no one
remains, or have we come here too soon?
We wake into worlds our dreams
We sleep within dreams our wakings build.
Still the lean dogs
crouch along their walls
while the abrasions of restless gulls call.