This burning haunted summer, dry wells,
The taste of ash, the smoke
Of creosoted beams. Wildfire
Licks the grass.
I am tired of all this talk of heaven and hell.
I try, but my mind can find no purchase
Scrabbling like a great dane on an ice rink --
I understand the stars pounding, thud thud thud
In the night sky, hurting my ears, stinging my eyes.
But all the rest, your cloisters, sitting-boxes --
No. But you are right about one thing:
There is something wrong, something twisted,
A breech presentation, a convolution
To confound the midwife. A foot wrong here;
An umbilicus wrapped around the neck.
A rope is simple, said the philosopher, but
To untie a knot in it you must move it
In complicated ways. But the rope is simple.
Perhaps it's like that.
Or perhaps it is as simple as the dying master
Who had one thing to say. His pupils leaned close
To hear his final teaching.
"I don't want to die," he said.
Now the snow is sifting down in Santiago;
It falls on tongues speaking soft Spanish;
It is winter in the Antipodes.
I lie down beside you in the little tent.
I say my prayers. I hold you tenderly:
The ghost of summer, holding winter
In its arms.