|Jan/Feb 1999 Feature|
Arrogant, sitting on her hands,
She said from across the vacant room
Just paint me and go.
In the gyrations of the air,
Like a body dancing, like wind
Funneling up a chimney,
She was a witch, and all while sitting
In the vague light, by the open window,
Her fingers growing longer.
And yet without moving she plunged
Into the light I painted her by
Like a moth, not having noticed
How poor and tired the light, or
That when the light was gone,
She would fold in upon herself
And yawn. Which she did,
Fighting her body like the skeleton
Trying to get out, while the time
Passed slower for her than for me
And her true eyes were hidden
From me, like rings in black boxes.
The husk is off the walnut.
She turns it with her paws and teeth,
Eyeing it down her long nose
Like a Chinese wood puzzle.
It isn't that her jaws aren't hard enough to crack it,
It's the roundness and the world it makes.
Later when the nut is inside her
And the broken shell strewn across the bed,
She curls around herself again, a world.
In the Light
The yellow dog can only shiver now,
Moon-eyed and fur-pitted, burned to the bone.
Barbarians poured acid, those same hands
That keep cutting the woman out of Egypt,
And sending bolts into the animals,
That throw the switch in my America
Just to keep throwing it. One cog catches
The next to make the big machine revolve,
Violence around violence around death
And no stopping. But for the yellow dog,
The well-lit world has closed down to the sound
Of its own lapping, dry nuggets falling
Into a bowl, its nails clipping across
The dark floor of space-time, across a floor
That may or may not lead from the dark world
Into the world of barbarian hands,
And one tender voice, old lady fingers
Clutching with promises, what bones appear
Grinning beyond the darkness now, what light
Does she carry with herself but never share?
That way lies all the dog has left. That way
And beyond, the door filled only with sound,
The steps, the feeling of grass under pads,
The cruelty of imagination,
A kind of quiet shaking in the light