Advice to an Imagist
The sun hits the ice-coated snow at 186,282 miles per second,
then slides across the greased surface of the earth.
I woke our sons this morning with the smell of bacon
spitting in an iron skillet.
An hour earlier, the smell of your sex stirred me,
and we held each other in dim light
as a garbage truck rumbled through the neighborhood.
I crack eggs in the brown the bacon bequeaths,
whisk them until the yellow and white congeal.
This time of year I have to squint to make out the heads
of laurel leaves as they strain their necks
to stay above the snowline. With so much radiance
it’s hard to hide my love for the pleasures of the earth.
When I was ten, a maple tree, split at its crotch by lightning,
went sap, freezing and thawing in an amber slick.
Night turned over in an unmade bed, and I licked
the sweet until my tongue was raw. What compares
to a cheek on the breast, a hand gently cradling
a lover’s bottom? Near the middle of the river
frazil ice swirls and bucks, kicking water into the air
where it freezes. You love dark chocolate and sea salt,
anything that melts with the body’s temperature.
I love building a fire in the snow, watching the russet
soil appear beneath the kettle as it begins to boil.
It Will Not Be
Building the days one by one
it may well be that we lose an hour
— maybe just one hour —
or more or many more, but rarely are there extra.
They’re always missing, lost to us.
We would like to steal them from the night
but we are tired
already our eyelids are heavy.
So we go to sleep and the final image
— before diving into dreams —
is of a new day, with long hours
like plains stretching out, like the wind.
There will be no days like the unexpected bubbles
The juice of this past day
seeps through the edge of dawn
and is already gnawing on it.
Construyendo los días uno a uno
bien puede ocurrir que nos falte una hora
– tal vez sólo una hora –
o más o muchas más, pero raro es que sobren.
Siempre faltan, nos faltan.
Quisiéramos robarlas a la noche
pero estamos cansados
nos pesan ya los párpados.
Nos dormimos así y la final imagen
– antes de zambullirnos en el sueño –
es para un día nuevo, de anchas horas
como llano estirado, como viento.
No habrá días-burbujas imprevistos
El zumo de este día transcurrido
se filtra por el borde de la madrugada
y ya la está royendo.
Said the Horse to the Light
To enter the room is to know at once how it not so long ago
contained fear. Is to understand hesitation both ways: as a form
of worry, and as but a sign for it. Through the room’s lone window,
it’s that ragged end to the season
when to find a sycamore
means watching for the bark’s tendency
toward scab; if birch, then the bark unfurling, less
like a ship’s sails than like the worn-to-parchment-thin stages
of a landfall won barely: hard the crossing,
and only some survived…Sometimes, to trust
the sea isn’t so much the point, anymore, as to know –
without minding it – the sea’s indifference. There’s a series of
rooms where everything between what I remember of us
for a time took place – each room
like this room; not much larger.
Not that I’d go back there.
Not that the names that we used weren’t our own,
but that we didn’t need names, when I’m moved at all.
How precise and absolute I was, and – almost as if therefore – how
unspeakable. The sea itself. Arguing neither for loneliness, nor against it.
When my memory
was a film library
with a keen curator
who knew precisely
where to find clips
of every word
I wished unsaid,
or deed undone,
to play back to me
on sleepless nights,
I’d have welcomed her
muddling the reels.
But now the curator’s
retired, the ordered
shelves are in chaos.
I roam the racks
without a guide
searching for scenes
I’ve lost. Sometimes,
unable to remember
what I’m searching for,
I find Forgetfulness
kneeling on the floor –
an old woman, pale
and worried as a ghost,
rummaging in a tangle
of shiny black ribbons.
I turn the page of the day,
writing what I’m told
by the motion of your eyelashes.
I enter you,
the truthfulness of the dark.
I want proofs of darkness, want
to drink the black wine:
take my eyes and crush them.
A drop of night
on your breast’s tip:
mysteries of the carnation.
Closing my eyes
I open them inside your eyes.
on its garnet bed:
your wet tongue.
There are fountains
in the garden of your veins.
With a mask of blood
I cross your thoughts blankly:
amnesia guides me
to the other side of life.
Doblo la página del día,
escribo lo que me dicta
el movimiento de tus pestañas.
abren las cortinas de tu ser
te visten con otra desnudez
descubren los cuerpos de tu cuerpo
inventan otro cuerpo a tu cuerpo.
Entro en ti,
veracidad de la tiniebla.
Quiero las evidencias de lo oscuro,
beber el vino negro:
toma mis ojos y reviéntalos.
Una gota de noche
sobre la punta de tus senos:
enigmas del clavel.
Al cerrar los ojos
los abro dentro de tus ojos.
En su lecho granate
siempre está despierta
y húmeda tu lengua.
en el jardín de tus arterias.
Con una máscara de sangre
atravieso tu pensamiento en blanco:
desmemoria me guía
hacia el reverso de la vida.
–Aracelis GirmayPlease raise your hand,whomever else of youhas been a child,lost, in a marketor a mall, withoutknowing it at first, followinga stranger, accidentallythinking he is yours,your family or parent, evengrabbing for his hands,even calling the wordyou said then for “Father,”only to see the facelook strangely down, utterlyforeign, utterly not the onewho loves you, youwho are a bird suddenlystunned by the glass partitionsof rooms.How farthe world you knew, & tall,& filled, finally, with strangers.