Posts Tagged ‘hightouch’

April 18.

(Am I morbid? very well, I am morbid. Sorry, don’t know why.)

Epitaphios logos

Because it is this sort of occasion &c. &c.
there are no words and yet we will go on
and on to say there are no words for such
an occasion because there are no words.

The origin of the one we are here to praise
and bury (–not far from here there’s a suburb
dedicated exclusively to praising and burying):
his people were good and her people were not bad

they were of good people and the further back
you go, the better they were.  You’d expect
nothing less from such good people
the good people we are here to praise and bury

bury and praise in a piece of excellent real estate.
They did all they could.  Even when things
were bad (winter sorrow loss of comrades)
they did all that could be expected.  More.  More

than could be reasonably expected (self-sacrifice
devotion &c. &c. there was nothing more
they could have done).  Console yourselves
with this: amid great difficulty they did all they could

just as you’d expect from such good people
even though there are no words no words
at all to say it which is what you might expect
from such an occasion and then when the praising

is done bury it.  Go now. Find your own mourning tree
and do your weeping there.  You know best
your reasons. Weep forever (all you can hope for)
from such a grievous fall as this.

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April 17

All Saints

Today they would be deciding which of the cattle
to butcher, then take the bare carcass to the bonefire,

the better to divine what journey to take, whom to marry,
where to live, and whether the grain stored up

would be enough to last the winter.  At the cusp
of what is passing, I dream of this day,

ever more sere, of something emptying over
long cold months.  Earlier and darker, I wake

to the last wasps bemusing the house.
Yesterday, quail flushed up to the roof;

the neighbor’s lush garden’s barer.  I don’t see her,
but her hand’s evident in the turned beds,

the spent plants taken up, already in a slow cold rot.
This morning I pull rough dregs from the bottom of my cup,

which means, mainly, that I’ve ground the coffee
wrong again, but I drink it anyway, like taking a little earth

into my mouth, letting the melt of days take with it
a little bit of dirt to inure me to the gray sky

turning, turning  with clouds:
to the cropped days     the gleaned hours

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April 16.

My last will and testament

When you read this I will be gone, thus having fulfilled
the charm that to consider one’s death is to assure it:

a minor poet added to his will a postscript,  I am not
therefore going to die, but it’s too late for that now.

Still, I was no longer young when I wrote this
and you, my heirs, will be wondering what to do

with everything you see around you.  Perhaps there is
by now money.  Take it.  Use it to live your lives,

preferably in some vivid way, but of that I have no doubt:
you never ceased being vivid to me.  I could not

take my eyes off of you. Why should this occasion
be sad, just because everything else always was,

at least a little?  I have never approved of people
who leave money to dogs, but please do something

splendid for a dog, will you?  Besides this small request,
I bequeath you all the colors that ever ravished me,

all song, patience for watching children in the rain.
I bequeath you my undivided attention, and also

all the longing that ever took me away.  Please ransack
my life.  Find the needles and pins, filament, folds

of fabric, scissors and knives:  you never know
what you’ll need to stitch together or sever: and take

my scarves, twine them into a great rope which you’ll
stretch between two tree trunks, preferably pines

and preferably in Idaho, like the great Shinto shrines
of Japan.  Eat your bread and cheese there.  Kiss

the grandchildren.  To the people I wronged, I bequeath
the regret I felt too awkward to offer in life.

To those to whom I kept apologizing until they feared
my approach, I am now finished with harm, envy,

bitterness and every sour thing.  The taste in my mouth
was sweet when I died.  Please sing, at my funeral,

both the holiest song and the common one.  Please place
a sachet of fragrant leaves in your pockets, and touch it

to release a bouquet of lime and rose petal.  Please wear
your favorite colors and tell jokes. At the end, burn

my fear that I did not spend my time well until the ashes
flicker, spent and spangling the wind.

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April 15.

De gustibus non disputandam est

the pithy end of summer grass

accidentally, grassblades in the lettuce

the dirt under my nails


strawberries, warm, saved from slugs
pale grapes, warm, saved from wasps

yellow cherries, saved
from worms

fallen apples

grey salt, raw sugar

peas split open
marigold petals

every aromatic, torn from the stem
roses and dogneck, breathed
so deeply

I could taste

from the honeysuckle
at the end of the road, the one

nectarous drop

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April 13.


She was sleeping, but I sat beside her anyway,
touched her shoulder where the hospital gown
fell open a little.  Touched her hair.  Kissed her
before I left, because it was sometimes like that:

she was worn out from the labor,
lifting the flail again and again
to make the husk yield its corn:
I came at twilight, always, at the ends

of my days, to have a few words and to say
good night.  Sometimes I listened to her
talk through early dreams:  the babies lost,
her husband having disappeared:

the troubles that thrashed her against
the rocks of what is:  the yield, the yield,

what sweetness might she dredge from
a wilderness of bereavement?  I cannot say
that there is nothing, not having watched her
struggle to leave this life, not after having

with my own lips assured her there would be
joy at another greeting, her mother and father,
her love, a warm room, herself having come home
from the wars.  It is a truth of my faith,

that house whence I have ventured forth.  The call
I woke up to, telling me she was gone, it pulled me
from sleep:  at first I didn’t know who they meant:
all day she hovered near me, gone but not gone.

I will not say I know this life is the end.  Which
supposition aids us more, helps us draw the circle,
gnaws at us less: there is no correct answer.
A threshold waits at the end.  I imagine it light,

you think it is dark, though neither of us can see it.

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April 12.


Sharp: bitter, deeply toothed, yet the Giant Leopard,
the Flame, the Grey Chi, the Orange Swift,
and the Setaceous Hebrew Character feed from it:

its bloom announces the season to the bees:

its leaves are said to cure wrath’s reek
from the liver and melancholy from the spleen:

children blow the clocks from its beak,
sending its uses and messages everywhere,
worldwide weed:  and so I dig its
taproot from among our flowers, though

the vote on blossoms has already been taken:
I work at its sticky milk on my hands,
and despair as its snow fills the air

on certain summer days, when instead
I should pick the butterflowers in full sun

when they are warm and open, steep them
in water for two days, unwind the zest
from four oranges and, with sugar, strain

into the vessel to ferment: it will cloud and clear,
cloud and clear:  I could drink it very cold
at four p.m. some day next July, again

taste the fruit of the world’s unlikely joys.

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April 11.


queen, neither bee nor ant, and having
perhaps not yet emerged from winter to lay eggs
where you have heretofore constructed
your atelier:  I, gazer upon your substation among the vines
of the sweet green grapes, declare this year
a vendetta upon you:  for I am the householder of this duchy
and as for you, I will no more take part in
the misanthropic threesome you have formerly established,
wherein you suck the grape from the skins
while I, immobile gazer, watch:  no more contradictory
worship, you in the nave of the plum tree
authority of the indeterminate apex of sugar and
bloom, I waiting distantly among the flax.

Come September, I will make a bell of syrup:
I will ring it and I will ring it until syrup
is your heaven and the vines are my bower.

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Add it up

At fifteen my daughter said, somehow
I imagine that, when you’re old, you’ll be sad.
The only song I can think of, besides Nat King Cole
singing is it only cause you’re lonely
they have blamed you, is one from my youth

called “Tragic Me”: I am listening to it, over and over:
I am not seventeen anymore, this song
was always fatuous:  was it Poe who said, the most
poetic subject is the death of a beautiful woman?
Not beautiful either, nor dead, but I think

I owe it to someone to do better than
forlorn:  one, they could have named me
Debbie, but didn’t, nor Deborah:  she
was a prophetess, which I admire,
but the name means bee, which,

come to think of it, I also admire,
industry and cooperation, neither of which
is my strong suit:  still, and two,
the walls of my house are painted
the colors of sunflowers and carnelians:

three, I always buy packets of seeds
in the spring, even if I don’t quite manage
to plant them:  four, I love the clean taste
of celery, every day, whole arching stalks,
to eat in the car or before I (five) fall asleep

in the afternoon, as easy as slipping
quietly into the water early morning at the lake,
which I never do, but I still find it a happy thought.
Six, I love the whole sky, especially after snow
or rain or even a big wind.  I love my dog,

I love to smell his doggy neck and I thank him
daily for his vigilance about the people
walking by our house.  Eighth is the way
I still have with a baby, and nine is for
my nine pairs of yellow shoes.

How long must I enumerate?
I like to hold things in my hands to feel
their weight and qualities.  I am an exponent
of the late afternoon.  No one knows how
to be lazy better than I:  My name is Lisa,

I swear it before God: I will not build
a house only of misery or death, I will not
make the sole beauty out of the
sorrow’s matter: every morning and night
I go to ground to praise the life still in me.

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April 9.


at the hour of the dog going out
and the paper arriving on the drive
during the meditation of how sleepy am I
and how worn might I yet be

I tip milk into the cup
I think of the news which I shall not retrieve
the quiet of everything, even of birds
who have not yet cracked an eye,

to judge by the fact of no song
at the usual window
where the sky might be
black:  I call it blueing,

suffusing my very skin in
spectral light that, as the sun
rises an hour from now,
will warm and amber

till it is the color of the egg
I break into a bowl and
tear apart with fork tines and cook,
out of which to devise the day

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April 8.

Other city

–beloved capitol, mother of what I see when entranced I lie.
Your map my friendly book, streets to alleyways and boulevards

swept dark and light, shadow and glimmer–the yellowood
articulating a wind in its many-jointed leaves: branches I follow

to find lost keys, house of the elusive hidden room.  There,
I go out and walk before dusk, in a summer of long light hours.

Though I know no one, nonetheless I am at home.  The tobacco smells
sweet and dry.  In the hearth, fine ash. Darkening, evening, still

the library circulates its books, and further on, a chapel, walls silvering,
windows holding a light I like to imagine as fire. At the door grow

heather and pansies, darkest purple. Of its silent household I am one:
there I was born and am forever let to lie in its familiar bed.

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