Saturday, April 05, 2008


How I loved the touch of your hands on my flesh
How the thinness of the sheet intoxicated me
How, when you set your knee upon the table,
And put the back of my hand on your thigh
To sink your elbow's point into my palm,
I could have forgotten I am old and you are young.

("What brought you to Portland?" I asked later, and
One of your eyebrows flicked upwards;
Expressionless, you nodded your head
Briefly at the alcove
Where your boyfriend sat, surfing the net;
And I thought,
Oh dear.)

This is not love, though I am fond of you,
Fond, as touching makes one,
If one is me.
This is cathexis; the habit of investing
The young and pretty and female part of the world
With special significance.
I have made you the gatekeepers of heaven
Whether you will or no
And whether I will or no
And though now I no
It is not so easy. I see you now and long to cross
Into the indistinct joy
Remembered from other people's pasts.
I cannot well express
How thoroughly I disbelieve in this paradise,
Nor how deeply I believe.

(I came through the door last night and Jonquil
Jumped up to hug me, and I held her warm young body
And said, "Hi, love,"
Without thinking, not knowing exactly
What I meant.)

Piece by piece I unmake the past:
I must dissolve
All of my life; I must open my hands.
You do not understand; you are thinking in terms
Of of your bloody right and wrong.
I am thinking of God; I am thinking of
The darkened halls of a suffocating gauze,
Of a diaphragm that cannot take a whole breath,
Nor release one.

Listen, think of it otherwise: think of the earliest
Sunrise you remember,
The flickering line segments
Cast by ants' legs
As they pattered in the morning light.
Think of of the last bell
Rung by the umze,
The sound of pure silver
Shining in the shadowed room.

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