I. Slower, Paler, More Distant
You warned me about this, and I had no choice
but to consent.
So your hair thinned; your right eye drifted
Night became fearful, a descent into broken
squares, too black to see: still and violent.
No touching hand could bring you back.
Blood, invisible, yours and mine, knew.
We spoke; it was early spring,
when gnats exploded
in the patio as if glad to see us,
a sudden surge of air in particles –
winged; it must have been wings;
we both saw them, felt them swiftly
scattered in pale sunlight; silvery, strange,
filled with letters, like your voice, determined
to speak beyond the sound
that you could barely make, in spite
of all wild desiring.
III. Disconcerting Staircase
I took your elbow as we began to climb,
lifting heavy shoes,
then saw the descent tilting downwards –
as Heraclitus said about the path;
and there we were together.
You understood long before I did,
and tried to say. I could only guess,
bending close, to hear your whispered word:
sounds, not varied, not more than
like a prayer.
IV. The Narrow Room
Shrieks, screams, yells for help beat from wall to wall,
unassuaged, propelled from a bag of bones
no welcome hand could calm.
Wrecked eyes, blue claws, teeth jutting every which way
out of the mouth slicing its terrible spear tongue;
tears nailed down, blow against blow,
the closing wall stained with cries;
not your cries, o mild and patient friend,
IV. Dark Space; Dark Hand; Dark Lines
You said the darkness that moved
over the book, the page,
and the lamp was there
but then it built the walls, the floor
and crept close to the hand
at rest, or idle; waiting;
beneath every finger,
under the chin and around the curve
at the back of the neck, over
the imperfectly oval skull,
hand upon hand, dark on subsiding
light, desire guiding desire,
misread as memory;
grasped as fulfillment
far from comprehension,
where each stroke could be
the forger’s intention,
or could unpredictably
speak, and mean not what was darkly,
blindly, thought; but extended,
a staff stretched out to what
is not yet.
You acquired new friends, companions, perhaps
more amusing, knowledgeable, skilled
I was removed (gently) to ante rooms –
archaic, outmoded spaces in drawn sequence,
of classic grandeur and intimidation:
grey, white edged, all planes sanded, swept;
echoing, withdrawn from mercy, staid,
strict in quiet motion.
Did I catch your eye? Did you really wave
from so far – a shift beneath curtains; a hand;
a cheekbone curved away?
VI. Nondescript Landscape: Parergon
It happened just as you said it would,
over to the side, unnoticed,
where the river broke into darts
of light, and the banked shrub
It wasn’t the main event; everything else
was more important. People rushed, eyes
strained to see everything else,
away from the slight undulation;
the inaudible cry.
Reed steeped, a scrap surfaced: a note
or postcard with a stamp curling away
where the stream washed the hand,