Q & A
Where analgesia may be found to ease the infinite, minute scars of the day;
What final interlude will result, picked bit by bit from the morning’s hurry, the lunch-hour boredom, the fevers of the night;
Why this one is cherished by the gods, and that one not;
How to win, and win again, and again, staking wit alone against a sea of time;
Which man to trust and, once found, how far—
Will not be found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John,
Nor Blackstone, nor Gray’s, nor Dun & Bradstreet, nor Freud, nor Marx,
Nor the sage of the evening news, nor the corner astrologist, nor in any poet,
Nor what sort of laughter should greet the paid pronouncements of the great,
Nor what pleasure the multitudes have, bringing lunch and the children to watch the condemned to be plunged into death,
Nor why the sun should rise tomorrow,
Nor how the moon still weaves upon the ground, through the leaves, so much silence and so much peace.
Night and the House
–Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen
Night reunites the house and its silence
From the foundations up
To the still flower
Only the ticking of time’s clock is heard
Night reunites the house and its destiny
Now nothing is scattered nothing divided
Everything watches like the vigilant cypress
Emptiness walks in its living spaces
The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain’s attention, there’s nothing to say.
The Danger of Wisdom
We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.
What Every Woman Should Carry
My mother gave me the prayer to Saint Theresa.
I added a used tube ticket, kleenex,
several Polo mints (furry), a tampon, pesetas,
a florin. Not wishing to be presumptuous,
not trusting you either, a pack of 3.
I have a pen. There is space for my guardian
angel, she has to fold her wings. Passport.
A key. Anguish, at what I said/didn’t say
when once you needed/didn’t need me. Anadin.
A credit card. His face the last time,
my impatience, my useless youth.
That empty sack, my heart. A box of matches.
La Boda del Mar y Arena
If we, for long enough, look,
with the clean eyes of children
at what this big house is saying,
we will start to understand
the language of our parents,
what the salt means.
I do not want to marry the wind
who leaves me things the color of gold,
whose tracks mark a serpent round the house.
More, more than parrots, more than gold,
I want my love to know my ear.
My love, I want to know your ear, & in this
instant that is as long as my life, I stand,
rigged with bones, beside the window:
beneath the purple dark of evening coming,
the sea & beach move into each other’s mouths
particle by particle; each one wanders
the big rooms of the other.
O, god, let us love
like they love.