Work in Progress
An electric clap, and the sky shuts
down. And pours. My desires, like yours,
are I expect rather simple. Orality, say.
The windows are sheeted, the streets
glazed with water. I do not know
my desires by sight or name, suspect
licking and swallowing and tasting
are involved. We all want
to be loved — they say. Everything
is there for the eating, under the clouds
Can you feel the muscle hardening?
Is it there? Is it tasty, or visually
satisfying, or moist? Where does it go
afterwards? When someone shuts off
the lights. Clap clap. If this has
a history, it's news to me, but there
are more things I don't know than
things I do. They preened themselves,
evidently, on their visual literacy. Does
it move independently of the joint?
Pretty ballerinas at the barre. At
the bar. I stretched, pirouetted,
and forced my feet into numbered
positions for about three weeks,
then pulled a muscle. Like facets
of a crystal. They twirl and dip
and swoon. Alone, the slim body
curves as with pain, or hunger,
or aspiration. Reach for the stars.
Where did I put my shoes?
A gravid female apteryx, in x-
ray: the four-pound body swollen
with a gross one-pound egg. What
system would account for thirteen
separate sorts of finch, thirteen
acts of special creation? Long dappled
grass, a highway paved with
linnets' wings. Discipline. You learn
to channel those nasty drives.
A word for it, Hegelian almost.
The Real Thing. Das Es. Look, but don't
touch. Don't see. One language alone,
he tells, won't do, but what's said
isn't worth the hearing. Some god
bends his graceful, rib-rounded
torso to touch some nymph. Instant
rerun. She has an idea for the muse,
sharper than she ought to be, more
determined by far than me. Father
Helios, all a-wobble.
Very like a whale. Or a wombat.
(Begin again.) The beautiful young
people once dazzled with their earnest
resolve. Today the coastal metropoles
crumble as ironic sea levels centimeter
upward. How much of that debt
is mine, how much yours? And who
do we pay it to? Era, earful, any time
of day. Others' letters delivered, speed
on to whatever shadowed box.
A touch on the audio screen and one
harsh word brings the whole evening
crashing down. I've been on edge,
you've been on edge, she's been
on edge — conjugation of inevitable
verb. The mystery of the lost meter,
to be rendered moot when the sea
percolates up through the limestone
and erases all our mistakes. Both
entrances blocked. Drive trains.
The natural posture is upright. Natural
position. Problem of the "natural." I toss
and turn, every night, to get you closer.
We run, where in sunlight or rain,
to stand still. This damned—another—
book. Pieces, bite. Shards. How do
"ew" vowels evolve: my father pronounced
it "strown"? Towards the end, he
couldn't live in comfort, slept propped
up with a finger on the morphine trigger.
The dream of great icicles fallen, smashed
on the sidewalk. Not on her, impaling
or crushing, but she herself shattered.
The Church retreating, the license
plates "Christian." This night suspends
water, hums with stone. I see only
from machines. Signs at the foot
of Trümmelbachfälle, the fatal
dangers of drinking one's water
too cold. Ammonia through the ceiling.
The valley opens up below you as
you ascend. Rushes up towards the helmet-
camera'd lunatic youths, their parachutes
and mashed potatoes with ketchup.
To build a city up there, raveled together
with cables, perilous switchbacks, gravel
and chilled pure water. Obsessed
with food, one more of the seven
deadlies. I dreamed you sliding down
that hillside, turning twitching reaching.