eisberg fr felt mod 3

Nis nu cwicra nan
þe ic him modsefan
minne durre
sweotule asecgan.

you’re seeing

something out there
springing up: a waterspout
its listing shimmy far away
from windows deeply shuttered
like the ones you hid behind
when storms came or trouble
you always knew that things
that can’t be seen are only sound

places you go into with nothing much
in mind, so necessary to have
nothing in mind, to have a mind
with nothing in it when lightning comes
the hardest thing to do

pushed first this way then that
this boat is going over

the pleasure of
things without words
water running over a rock
or that day you stepped out
into that rigid cold
and shrugged in your clothes
something like a skin you
could move around in, some
shape you entered into then
discovered as your own

the first time you heard
the baby laugh, the only thing
in the world always like
the first time

you never imagined you’d die
the way you did
it teased you first
knocked you around a bit or a lot
let you sleep it off while it
cooled off in a close café
or in another hemisphere
got on a bus headed your way
no matter where you were

in the end, it would invite you
into a little room
not as cramped as a
confessional, not as luxe as the
ladies’ room you peeked into
in that hotel in Havana
warmth coming from somewhere
inside those marble surfaces
the stuffed tight couch and chairs
the deep mirror where
women leaned into their own
reflections, that look in the eye to eye
like someone distracted by
a thought not enough
to hang onto

watching them

feeling the things you felt

you stepped out for, say
a pack of smokes or idly
followed something that swayed
you were already falling
when it came, one small
searing point inside you
suddenly big as the world

even if you could have made a sound
even if you could have screamed
like a tornado,
you could not have matched
its everything, it had no other side

my friend, this is as far as I can go
from this world that’s not
the one you’re in, the one
where you arrived when you
were on your way to someplace else
with your tired luggage
happy, sad, trying
to find a place where
someone would be glad to see you

if hope can have an object
in the past, I hope that in the end
you weren’t alone, that some hand
touched you with kindness, hope
that if you had yearned for someone
it never crossed your mind
hope you didn’t think you’d lost
the things you couldn’t have
hope you knew you always had
all the things you had to leave behind

epigraph from the Old English poem “The Wanderer”
modified image; original at U of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank http://content.lib.washington.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/fishimages&CISOPTR=53714&CISOBOX=1&REC=14

First Last

zin rszd cmp

like life itself before we know we’re us

In the end it’s air the body wants,
air that won’t come, air that comes too late–
the body wants it as one wants cool water
from a jar midday or to rest a spell
in that shade at the edge of the field
or near the creek that goes on even
when you look away,
moving as air moves through all living things
like life itself before we know we’re us.

If death did kindness
that last body letting go
would return you to the first,
the one you lived in when you knew
the way you’d never know again
the sound of that creek,
the smell of the cornfield in hot rain
or in the cool of the day the smell
of the kitchen garden’s beans and zinnias,
the red dirt you tasted or down the road
creosote on a power line pole
tasting the way electricity must taste–
not exactly better than the dirt
but worth the punishment that always
just seems part of prohibition.

Nothing could touch
the things you carried in your mind.
Even when you were dragging
that kid-sized cotton picking sack,
you could be in a dawdling dream,
feeling cool air on your skin in summer
or throwing sticks for your first dog,
that first friend of your soul
who smelled like biscuits and molasses,
and woke you every morning with the sun.