BEGINNING WITH A LINE FROM PETER RILEY
This is where love fastens us to the earth, undoing us as dust, long fade to anonymity, of a thousand evenings in which the one thing that matters most is not the end of day, but the abolition of beginnings.
Because living is impure light, stolen from a darkness that commands it, & what is lost haunts us with the promise of another, truer disaster.
The mute globe of breath in the heart trembles – lallation& echo, subsidence on a gray shore.
Out of the pulp of matter sublimity, then senescence. Late fall to planet, the grinding hour of prayer. Ardent or faltering, a star wipes a face in a grainy photo. The yellow ivories, the smoothed woods. Listless.
The history of helplessness is the wish for lyric.
So, I try to begin a story about myself. Will there be images? Is that a poem? Or is it narrative? What is a narrative? A series of links? Is that what a poem is? A sequence for binding a ritualized self. But this is not a self. This is a text. Whatever I say stands in the space of the “I.”
And then where is the song, someone asks. Who gives it melody? Is it for grief or wonder. If I am to be I, then a structure ensues. The ritual one. Disclosure. Elision. Someone says “witness.” How do we take up the call? Someone says “text.” Someone says “witness this,” winter, Wednesday, or next.
I try to begin a story about myself. But then it is also a story about you. About love, a boat, a dollar. The dollar was paid for. The boat is a dove and the dove is on fire.
What is the word for being together and what is the word for modern? What is the word for remnant and what is the word for apart?
But what is the sentence for love, love.
What is the word for here.
THE DEATH OF THE AUTHOR
for Jane Gallop
If I were a writer, and dead, then how bright the sky at evening when evening is a word for making other words.
And how I would love to be dispersed across the sky, ashes thrown to the wind and someone’s beautiful eyes reducing me to a few precious details. Travelling outside whatever my life had been, joining me to a future that cannot know me, except as a toy that resurrects the destroyed.
If I were a writer and no longer a part of my story, but given over unseen to the birds at evensong, returning to the same life, the very same and yet different. Speaking warmly with strangers at the gate, skirting the paths through the park, spying on the couples who are kissing in their sleep, a part of the larger night where everything has already happened without me.
If I were a writer, and dead, I would enter the room of sudden desires. The one with salty foods and glasses of whiskey. The book there where I had left it. Your eyes, your voice.
Whatever pierces me. Speeches me. Even now, dead, writes me.
If the soul could --
If the soul were butter
or if the soul were dirt
it could see you better
and then where on earth
to take the spoon from sorrow?
If the drift were bigger
the weight of it, hefted --
If the slow ink of its death
dropped clear the way
then bells, after.
If the ride to the station
in winter, at night --
if the night blazed carillons
then how we’d want to
want to be bitter –
Glory of stars saying under stars.
The saying of stars is litter.
Then the soul dives --
Then the soul all under
its coat of shivers shivers --