At last, they were all.
They left the hospital, drove home through the autumn
to a sameness changed.
The red nectar meniscus low in the hummingbird feeder,
parchment-yellow’s creeping spread from the tips of houseplants.
Everything was natural.
He would wake before sunrise to dress in dark
and kiss both of them, now, before leaving.
She woke with him,
not to his alarm, but to the cessation of his snoring,
and watched the night evaporate for hours.
Outside the windows
the yard’s same paling silence, but louder.
Hypervigilance was listed everywhere as a telltale symptom.
There had been accusation at the birth, in the child’s frothy new eyes
that still squinted, as if at an unwanted gift.
One day soon after he’d married her, he went to work
and noticed himself there.
The fact distilled clear as the sentence:
I am at work.
Not a vague unworded perception of “here”, or “this”, or “at work”,
or just a conscious “I”, no, very precisely I am at work,
as one could be at work, or,
as another might recognize, not be at home.
Aloof in the world’s conversational ocean,
his mouth twitched with abrupt need
to make for the bobbing bright respite of her inner talk,
shaped like her by its own inmost letter,
the part of her that cleaved his consciousness
and kept some for her own
so that now through liquefying shelves and cashiers
he sought what her word held of him, around him.
He glided alone toward its airy O
to surface in the center of a buoyant you.
Around their mailbox, she had trellised clematis
as if to invite good news.
As winter slid closer she tried to recall
how the flowers leveled their sharp petals each spring
when the tendriled networks of jasmine vines
ran thin between the oak and the roof,
and small blossoms crouched in the glossy leaves
like insects, curled cream and buttercup,
vigor shining under the heavy weight of their scent
with the appalling beauty of a delirious child.
He liked to watch television after dinner,
his hair still shining walnut at the temples.
Their couch was brown, and their curtains,
and the brown linoleum peeled itself up, distasteful, at the kitchen corners.
The cat they’d taken in
their first year of marriage, vaguely calico,
wandered now through the house feeling camouflaged
and that texture covered everything, everything
In the quiet
balance of your personal absences, compressed
by force of function to a life
wreathed in daily circlets of daisy-chain reactions,
that a free-falling human body
will, if permitted
to fall long enough, cease to feel in its guts
that it is falling, becoming
in its own mass.
My pity for you was decorative.
You wanted me most when I undressed,
when you thought me most vulnerable, when
you would never refuse me.
—And Alone the Observer Perceives the Cold.
I have been trained
to believe in for example
that snow in its infinite particularity is
the infinite. Because. It veils all versions that lie
beneath. As a child I picked pansies, enormous homely blooms
big as my hand, and shaped like
the heart of my palm, striated
with purple and yellow
and smaller white petals like clean silken ears
in their own little snow
containing in each ecstatic
expansion from center the original
pattern of expansion
to round itself off into future, to the exact
degree and angle of misperception
necessary for the eye to calculate
its depth. It cannot surprise that what emerges from the blind spot
is the most surprising (another rule).
When we say
suicide is never an option
what we mean is
you cannot choose something
because it is easy
because we will burst
from this way of thinking, which is, however,
always an option, and choice
is a necessary component of any rational life.
—these being the perspectival lines
that lead to the diminishment of the hand
that grasps the charcoal, guides the other
hand that lights the fire.
Any beauty I have ever appeared to own, I owe
to an internal imperative
not to occupy more time or space
than I deserve.
Above all I know how to disappear.
How the green orchids were all we did not talk about at breakfast after that.
Let the lock, its liquid burp from the wall,
at last toward a new destination,
a felt expanse
came furnished with glistering birds. If only I’d hidden
in the earliest hour, released
a murder of blue-black balloons…
but to concede
the sand would have been
to concede the glass and the microscope, to level
its holy dome
like a paperweight over their characters.
The idea of flight is tired, needs
we dig for hollower bones.