Three Poems Starting with ‘W’
Written on a Torn Package
for Eric and Chris
That time I stepped to the blackboard
to draw a shape with chalk as I spoke,
trying to illustrate some notion of unity
among a race of humans who were no more
to raise up children that their words might hold
against the spatter not of time but greed,
as my arm moved I saw their faces blanch,
their mouths shape awe, breath audibly
rushing in, “What?” I said, “What wrong?”
and turned to see how quite by chance, or grace,
with no line or stencil or rule, I’d made a ring
perfectly true, full, this one time, like a dream.
They rumor where it ends, perhaps at night
when we climb the cellar stair, shutting the light
as we go, then we go; they rumor it where
we least expect. What would that mean?
We are never where we cocksure seem.
So June distills to planting one river or black
birch: its sawtooth leaves flutter like perfect
tongues. Are they speaking to call us back?
We rise, a little spoken, a little spent,
staying for a moment Earth’s sure stop.
We rise, have risen, here overcome the Earth’s
sure weight. Where not?
The first photograph would be historic in any case
even had a mad lover of light and exact distances
only bumped his awkward contraption to the floor
capturing brokenly in its fall three gerber daisies
dying unwatered in their workshop gloom;
such gerberain any case would live preserved
in every treatise, handbook, museum hall,
studied by neophytes in every nation
gloria mundi coacervatus
while the sparrow, passer domesticus,
at that same critical instant beating against the glass,
furious to get any pale dried stems for its nest,
would escape all history, like your voice today,
like my longing for your voice today.