Quieter thought gone louder now as arms pump full with something that stings Sits like lactic acid in my wrists isn’t it supposed to fade isn’t it supposed to drain? It’s not often that these mountains fuzz in the sun; thin air makes a pure picture. But even crisp heights make ocean sunsets— to remind us that one mile or two Are smallest slices of one world’s onioned globe. I climbed these rocks to look Down toward river, up to mountain, never quite high enough to own it all and I know Behind this hill he watches with me. Watches me leave on important business, Imagines the little gray car swerving back over the river, back through town, Up to the house he can’t have up there on that mountain. I hid my car Behind the rock face one driveway up. He’s given me butter to use when he’s gone. It’s melting in the sun. And I’m up above on this speckled evening listening To the river he can hear too. Or can’t hear anymore but should. When I came To take his things his eyes were red. Told me the house was dusty. It was. I near saw them turn purple in the driveway, but waved and turned down the dirt. I used to watch the mountains hard, write long sentences of exact description, Thinking how elegant, how romantic I was as I wrote: Birds, Flowers, God. I knew It was all good. I emptied my head until I thought Something echoed from behind Or above. Now I watch a man pull himself up boulders, boost his black dogs, one little, One larger, to sit on another rock tower. He empties his shoes and watches this soft fading. The dogs gleam against that rock, lazily explore in circles their outcropping, Their rock so redyellow against that bluegray mountain. My rock beneath just dappled In green lichen. We are not the same. We are not one in this passing shadow. I could Watch my own strong child legs scrambling and I cannot say I’d know them. I’m on This side of the rock; I did not climb to the top. The man serpentines down, careful Enough to show his age. He knows his route. He’s well-versed with the little dog now Under his arm, bracing against a reaching step. The shadow’s taken his rock, and he’s had enough. Purple mountain and purple rock and purple eyes blend. I see the man descend. In even light, you can see the streaks on this face. The tower is crumpled, is fractured. It wrinkles like an ass does, or a cheek. I would stretch it out to smooth it, but it is Too dry now. It would bleed. It is not one clean slab. I cannot tell if its compression Has come from the front or the top. Perhaps from the inside. I see that it’s been pinched. In even light, I’m no longer shadowed beneath this sparse tree. Below, I see The two dogs leashed, and here’s a little family on the path. I hear their steps; the Little one—five, maybe seven—has a decibel that reaches my perch. It carries, shoots with her turquoise shirt, that demanding lilt that spins. She and it sink into the gulley. I hope she climbs and doesn’t see me crouching. I swear there’s a murmur of Her father. I want to shout across this space. It will change. Like mountains, like rock, Like dogs leashed, walked— You will find yourself on your own outcrop. You will glow Pink, red, as everything fades blue and you will be seen across the rock. And you will Have to learn to climb down, because the butter is melting and the yogurt is curdling and The romaine is wilting even though you’ve thanked your father for it even though you Said you’d take care of it even though he So high! —Hold onto my hand— If I were a child, I’d think you were God’s echo— so damn trite. I’d think you were a message placed in a quieted mind. But my mind isn’t quiet, And I can’t say I was listening. Not for your parents in brown or red— for you in that turquoise, spinning. Turquoise that doesn’t bother with shadows. I see you so clear up there. I see you I see you climb over the side. And here am I alone watching the mountains with my father On two sides of a rock. The romaine is wilting. It’s all fading. Dogs gone, man gone, You gone. The yogurt is curdling. I must climb down. I can’t remember how.
I flew into Boston and saw your arm in the surf.
He holds the bay like a skipping rock— a perfect round find, polished, cocked in hard arched forefinger,
shining and heavy and cool. He whips the disc fast and crisp, and talks the Sox like he grew up in Southie. All the suburb boys
learned to. He wrangles the Pike like an old stubborn friend, lets it guide him away from gray spring. He leaves snow-cracked shoes,
and runs through sand until he gets his summer feet. He’s running now— takes to deep paths like drunk softball base runners,
splits with sliding steps through beachgrass. Opens this place up like sunscreen fingers on potato chip bags. The mildew hits him,
bursts through the basement door and settles on him, sweet like dried Diet Coke. He sips koozied cans loudly in his low rusting chair.
Dripped ice cream and childhood and t-shirts stick to him. These kinds of days, he only bathes with spiders in cool outdoor showers.
He spends August nights making sure you can’t tell the difference between his skin and the wind, and you can near see him in the tide.
His voice is summer and so are his eyes. May he never stop talking smack. May he never blink beneath that cap.
Dark now, magpies sleep and I’m dancing with a flame on the city.
Down there, glowing swans snake into themselves and roll
Like tipping rocking horses into water. There’s a black one in the Serpentine.
The morning ladies say they see it. It has tied itself up for the night.
Look East. In yellow light find stone and brick and soot that
smudges faces of city blocks. Watch smoke move like marbling wax.
The wind takes our light, then plays above trees in Hyde Park. It falls, lifts two pigeons
and a newspaper in South Kensington. They flutter, they settle.
Orphan horns blend. Watch it all bumble. Lean in with sparkling flint
To relight this low candle. Smiling, you are
So gentle like soft flame barely holding to wick. Grapple, dance with me,
With things we all hear now and once heard clearer as children.
Look down with me on this city. Let us light it all up.
I will make it glow. I will use the word to show your face in this flicker.
One magpie, two.
My room is pouring me out through the window into the street as if
My bed is slanting down as if
It wants me to tumble along with London rain.
London makes you write with your eyes closed.
All these bards have turned into their insides
Tried to find something some light in this gray.
You land on me like a tree over a path creates a secret
An accidental cave where I can
Close my umbrella. You have nowhere better to be
Walk slowly and let the rain coat your shirt
Walk slower as if this is all on purpose. Dress
As if this is all on purpose. Remember how
Strangely magnificent it is to see a horse in this city.
Mythical giant with memories of
A historical outside. Where do you think
It is what man has made. Cough
settled in and over perfect
cardboard skyscrapers waiting
to domino— empty, light, soundless, lost
behind haze that seeps into
a mind a tongue into scattered
vocabulary and nothing to
see in dizzying dark morning
brightness. Forced myopia,
this country moves in fog—
a building revealing itself,
hiding itself, car, motorcycle,
person in field and street corner,
all alone in this cloud. It is
I know the robed wide woman dark on neighbor balcony –
the one who looks up at nothing then down at the pub –
laughs when the handrail is too fast for the escalator
when she finds herself, after a flight, slightly leaning.
Some things are made to take heat, this tea pot for example
Made not to warp or melt but to hold water over fire.
Does she hate, I wonder, to whistle? Or worse-
Will she whistle herself quiet?
grass and tree all green like it should be
all propped up on a hill in Watership Down
where cottages nest among and under
familiar words that build places from paintings
and maps, all full of Boston suburbs and streets,
this untouched English countryside so gently pillaged.
And so it is here like it should be where
a red house looks cold and wise and dark and right
in trees and green, so the still and the violent Sport
of Kings just there. Why wouldn’t we circle the match
lead in hand, why wouldn’t we be walking?
but for his damn barking startling all the
pretty people his barking barking. You’re afraid
as dark birds alight they might
carry up these Watership Down trees may well buzz away
these wheat fields may well blow away would
But let it all blow away. Let the horses run like reindeer
into the gray. Carry away rosy Harry, go on. Let this clean
marquee shutter and burst into watercress that champagne into
its rightful gully let it all go spinning.
He is a good dog. He is a kind animal, stupid.
I do not want your Watership Down
if I must wrestle this animal quiet. If you must strike-
A noise like that should be a fox’s bite back or holly fingers digging.
It is not his wet nose, soft, seeking, slapped on your hard palm —
This bit of peace has settled here. You cannot hold it like a black
rubber grip like a brick.
You do not deserve your home. I will let it all go.