blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1




You never flinch when we lie down, your eyes
          matching mine, step for step in the way figure skaters couple,
glide and dip. When I look too long into the dark I see
          how desire swells in the mind in a long fomenting ache,
leaning toward what it thinks is its moment of transcendence
          until it's poured back and pestled down
in the frail vessel of the body.
          You want it that way, the empty stairway on the ward
where you work and that you insist we climb,
          where a gallery of pigeons pace their awkward nests
in the opened skylight hanging over us,
          their gurgled coos and clattering rush
battering the shaft of light that pins us there, pulsing
          like huge monarchs, our wings unfurled.
You throw the future out
          onto the bald carpet of our room; again and
again the coins reveal: Revolution.
          When I touch you, the irises of your eyes begin
to float up like small planets, though you still come, hard,
          down that slow river of stars, skin stretched tight
over the raft of your collarbones, your hips a reflexive cough.
          You start lunching with a surgeon. He has small, hesitant teeth
and fine shirts, and you say he talks of the difficulties of opening bodies,
          separating the lungs from the heart. Kidneys that are
like purses hard with jewels, livers slapped quivering
          into steel pans, almost the size of small babies.
Together you walk the lawns at work,
          feed the half-tamed crows and the many starlings
that fill the sky, black scratches on a bright mirror . . .
          I can't stop myself from watching.
I sell my back as day labor, drive out the long wound
          of highway laid down across the coastal range
to lose myself in the small clear bowl of a valley there,
          chopping out the old orchards planted a century ago.
One night in November I lie in a hick-town hospital,
          my shoulder rearranged when a branch I'd straddled
whipped and bucked with the force of a bull.
          Stupid, slack-jawed, slathered in my own saliva and doused
with enough morphine to swim off down the hall
          nosing the walls, I study the bad landscapes there—
dogwoods snowing over a riverbank, the liquid yellow grass
          sprung through the Gothic ribs of rotting boats, then you—
just outside the window—coming for me, eyes on mine,
          your nurse-whites unbuttoned, that black hair of yours
streaming out behind you, unwoven, wild,
          that host of ravens at your back.  

return to top