You Keep the Marvel Alive: Three Poems
Surrender the Life
It isn’t you behind the veil
that your mother wore so well,
that keeps the flies away. It doesn’t
succeed in hiding your porcelain face,
in the way that lace inevitably masks
only a portion of one’s vision at a time. This
variation, this betrayal of ancient melody
is out of mind, but not out of rhyme, not yet,
not entirely. Time rolls away with precision;
a craftsman’s greatest work doesn’t creak
or snap from the increase
of pressure. You, however–you knob along
in large curds. You belong two-hundred feet
from where you stand, no matter where
your seat. Here, he says, lifting his
comically large white candle, light the way.
You have already ballooned. Twice, now,
you have clotted your way out of a promise.
There are hearts in museums less gunked-
up than you. Still, we only catch the faint
brush of light from your tear as it appears
and then vanishes behind the knit rose
dancing in front of you. The tail behind you
is endless– it thrusts you forward, into
a molded life of pointed windows and pain.
You asked for a fast catastrophe, for a kiss
that lasts decades. That vow is bone-
dry and left half-buried. White flag, I wave
to you; when your colors finally bleed,
they will turn your lips a very serious pink.
What else could be said here
–the grass is kept short, the old gutters
clear as quick rivulets, dishing out rust
in flakes to the fish; vacancy is more
than an empty word. This crispness,
this color of ether, meandering from
ripe to rotten, fills your open mouth
with laughter. You can feel it coming,
that approaching sterility; from what
prehistoric land does it hail? When
primordial birds, legs like helicopter
blades, toppled over the rolling slopes
in search of larger, more useful arms;
when bees were not quite as small
as these? That one surveys the abandoned
house, abandoned, not by him like we thought,
but by children who had outgrown their taste
for snails and butterscotch. The deepest, most ancient
metaphors are much like this; a moment that is
only a moment, and only for a moment.
It’s death means nothing to the blue
and luminous sky, even if it means a great deal
to you (and your honeyed, hopeful eye).
You keep the marvel alive. You see magic
in the lowest of places. You always double-
knot your long, brown shoelaces. There was
a good reason we gave this place a name,
and it is a miracle we have not forgotten it.
Only in other languages could the word
“dirt” sound so beautiful. Be prepared to go
mining when chasing a dream, for they lie
buried beneath us like ancestors and ingots.
If gold is coveted, it is not because of its sheen;
it is due its natural inability to rot. “Please, do not
step on the grass.” “No diving.”
—this is how they stop you from living.
I watched the bickering vultures
scatter awkwardly from the carcass
that remained, half body half
snow. I slid into its open torso,
filled its limbs with my limbs
and its face with mine, and I walked
behind the scavengers like the ghost
of a family meal. After twenty years
of tasting blood in every sip of stream,
the soft mound finally took hold;
I had vanished behind the eyes
of a frozen beast. I bayed, I bucked.
I twitched my ears at the sound
of snapping twigs. Nature had taken
the inedible and swallowed it whole.
I grew tired of aimless rotations.
I fell asleep in a quiet place, and soon
the bouncing buzzards returned
to rip me out through the belly
and leave me there, half body half
snow, for some other creature
to call home.