When you pull your old self out to show,
the dead you don’t know and the dead you do
come smiling recognition who you are:
just nothing but what they think they know.
Shirt like lost dog on suburban corner
or sneaker highway-side, the occasional
eyeglasses, apron, longjohns, brassiere
next to those places we all pass by–
so much for us and the people we know,
even when they lie next to us night by night.
The old self-us they dream, while we’re in flight.
Our heart was a wide open window
whenever we looked at you.
We wanted you to live forever
though we knew that we would not.
You were all light inside our darkness.
Our sun rolled round and loved you too–
love like a glistening tide, love
like silver in the morning sky
of all the days before without us
and all the days of afterwards.
Even though you left us
we could never let you go.
A day longer than a day–
water under a piling,
plying sand and silt away
till everything is water
and sky–heat lightning,
How off the track the wheel
of other lines, the little you
the big one orbits round,
the last lost creature
In the spirit jail.
Looked at from some sidewise angle
you’d not have guessed it was the sky.
Nothing so narrowly tuned could produce
something so broad and so flat and so blue,
not even brassy sirens’ singing
to reel you in to your blue fortune.
When the small one said she’d tell your fortune
didn’t you get she was working an angle?
What you took for mere rustic singing
was charm enough to pull birds from the sky,
to set a spell in thick Egyptian blue
later cranks and cravings to produce.
You’re after all a long way from produce
spread out on planks, such fine green fortune
edged with flour sacking’s stitched soft blue,
a long way from nets and cane poles to angle
some big fish from a reflected sky–
yes, the one about which we are singing.
Alas, you never liked my singing.
Mock listening, you plotted to produce
something as beckoning as the big sky,
something that smacked of sweet fortune,
a happy face to find a happy angle,
a different guitar that was not blue.
But why shouldn’t I be feeling blue?
It’s not as if cure can come from singing.
There’s always some disastrous angle
waiting to further sadnesses produce
to make us bewail faint fortune
beneath this purely accidental sky.
Hell, we don’t even see the same sky–
neither the one so merely blue
nor the one that may rain down fortune,
shells and coins clattering, singing
from purse to palm just to produce
the promise of some fetching angle.
If it looks like the sky from any angle,
let’s thank this fortune that can produce
such singing even if it’s blue!