An old feeling, carried through the years

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
            with what you thought was certainty.
                          One day, it just happens—the tether

loosens. The habit of always looking
            back gives way to a resignation.
                          The poets still sing of great,

unquenchable loves; of a city 
            lost in mist that the fragrance of
                          a single peach on a table could evoke. 

The boat cannot find its way 
           back to that current. Another love 
                         beckons, another love holds you here.

The Turning

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
It will rain and rain again
and we will think 
there'll be no end to it

it will turn cold and night
will fall faster 
than the light can catch it

or it will cycle between 
heat and uncertainty
before climbing walls of fog

it will spare no branch
no seedling 
nor hollowed tuft in the field

it will take with a mouth
hungry for every plot
brillianced with green

it will leave us messages 
in stone written by blue-
tongued skinks 


No Existing Record

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Where are you if we can't find proof of your 
existence as civil servant? Not even an index 
card in a filing cabinet, not one yellowing record 
with nearly unreadable letters stuck in a box, 
somewhere in the basement of the City Hall? 
The clerks say it's because it was the time before 
digitization, before computerized filing; when 
sheaves of paper were tied with twine or organized 
with rubber bands: A-E under a moldy pipe, F-J 
by the water heater. All the men who knew you 
or were your friends are dead now too—what 
is death if not the last repository, safety 
deposit box without a key, without a combination;
held inside some depthless vault we can't imagine? 


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
"...Beautiful, unanswerable questions."
                           ~ Carl Sandburg

Days hiccup, alternate: you wake  
           one day and maybe you think it's 
such an unexceptional day. Or maybe
           it feels indeterminate, like standing
in the musty lobby of a nondescript motel,
           no longer recalling how you got 
there. Maybe it's like the back corridor 
           of the Planned Parenthood clinic,
walls painted chalky gray, when 
           in your late forties, you held a test 
stick in your fingers and watched
           a second evap line turn dark 
pink  in the window. A group of pious 
           protesters stood in tight semicircle 
near the exit, singing hymns, amazing
           something; chanting and chanting
their holier-than-thou.  Did they 
           never feel their bodies 
could play tricks on them—pull out 
           from a hidden shelf a seed 
that thought it might flower like campion
           dug out of the permafrost?  But 
before you could make your return
            appointment, while in the shower  
a glistening knob of tissue unfastened,
            slid out. Loosened whorl, small 
bud you palmed from wet tile:
            how the body recognized
the feel of a suddenly empty room.

Full Moon

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Sometimes a pearly
brightness outlines each 
dusty blade of the blinds, 
deep in the night, as though 
from a floodlight. Of course
it's only the moon, which 
cycles again from its first
slivered form to this  
fullness—even if you
remain asleep, it sieves
through darkness 
the way a feeling 
like happiness 
might touch
everything in its way;
the way a fever runs
its course and 
finally breaks.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Under an arch of trees, 
a mild wind passes  
and you recall an earlier time
when you looked up and there seemed
an opening in the hills, the smallest cleft
where the light came and went. 
Holding it in your gaze, 
you remember too 
when once you climbed 
to the summit—
an easy hike then, not many house
plots yet, or fences beyond which
laundry dripped in the sun. A lone
cow grazing, a flock of goats.
Wild patches of marapait;
tender vines of sayote and tartaraok. 
Mechanics tinkered with dented
vehicles, their heads wreathed
in cigarette smoke. And at the top:
ruined ramparts that only the ghosts 
of priests or prisoners walked 
at sundown. Isn't this how every past
love fades into a flower or a leaf? 
Wind or no wind, so many
blossoms at the base of the tree.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
as in not only the aftermath but some aftertime.
Meaning what we survive, or what survives us.
The mail, finally delivered beyond the end of the world.
Little squares of sticky-backed neon paper, untouched.
The electric car whispering your driving score.
The as yet unimagined successors of the manila envelope,
the horse-drawn carriage, the pneumatic tube, 
end-to-end encrypted email.
Are we there yet, asks the speaking donkey.
Evidently not, if animation extends only to a 3D screen.
Meaning after the statues have come down
there are still dark, haunted histories.
Meaning we are in the throat of a moment
that hasn't completely spat us out yet.
We're working as hard as we can.
We can be as rust-colored fishbones,
as calcium stones, a mouthful of marbles
refusing to translate their brilliance.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Nothing lasts, nothing keeps 
its original form. In stories, a room
full of wheat will make you want
to think of gold filaments, wires 
curved cunningly into miniature 
trellises. A body covered with leaves 
could have been a windfall that floated 
out of the open sky. Doesn't it look
familiar ? Across a quilt there are
thousands of stitches. How can each 
one of them, that tiny, anchor the weight 
of so many nights of sleep?

Approaching Equinox

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
A late summer of relentless sun:
yet hard green figs hide in the foliage.

Some leaves are yellow and falling;
perhaps they think their season's done.

The cheeks of some fruit never flushed
as though from tinctures of mandrake,

never turned purple as nightshade.
No chalky crimson where the heart

might be,  just a mossy  silence sifting
from farther away or overhead.