She wants a house full of cups and the ghosts
of last century’s lesbians; I want a spotless
apartment, a fast computer. She wants a woodstove,
three cords of ash, an axe; I want
a clean gas flame. She wants a row of jars:
oats, coriander, thick green oil;
I want nothing to store. She wants pomanders,
linens, baby quilts, scrapbooks. She wants Wellesley
reunions. I want gleaming floorboards, the river’s
reflection. She wants shrimp and sweat and salt;
she wants chocolate. I want a raku bowl,
steam rising from rice. She wants goats,
chickens, children. Feeding and weeping. I want
wind from the river freshening cleared rooms.
She wants birthdays, theaters, flags, peonies.
I want words like lasers. She wants a mother’s
tenderness. Touch ancient as the river.
I want a woman’s wit swift as a fox.
She’s in her city, meeting
her deadline; I’m in my mill village out late
with the dog, listening to the pinging wind bells, thinking
of the twelve years of wanting, apart and together.
We’ve kissed all weekend; we want
to drive the hundred miles and try it again.
thank you for the source, Laura Olin
It’s today: all of yesterday dropped away among the fingers of the light and the sleeping eyes. Tomorrow will come on its green footsteps; no one can stop the river of the dawn.
—Pablo Neruda, from “XLIX” 100 Love Sonnets
Keep away, son, these lakes are salt. These flowers
Eat insects. Here private lunatics
Yell and skip in a very dry country.
Or where some haywire monument
Some badfaced daddy of fear
Commands an unintelligent rite.
To dance on the unlucky mountain,
To dance they go, and shake the sin
Out of their feet and hands,
Frenzied until the sudden night
Falls very quiet, and magic sin
Creeps, secret, back again.
Badlands echo with omens of ruin:
Seven are very satisfied, regaining possession:
(Bring a little mescaline, you’ll get along!)
There’s something in your bones,
There’s someone dirty in your critical skin,
There’s a tradition in your cruel misdirected finger
Which you must obey, and scribble in the hot sand:
“Let everybody come and attend
Where lights and airs are fixed
To teach and entertain. O watch the sandy people
Hopping in the naked bull’s-eye,
Shake the wildness out of their limbs,
Try to make peace like John in skins
Elijah in the timid air
or Anthony in tombs:
Pluck the imaginary trigger, brothers.
Shoot the devil: he’ll be back again!”
America needs these fatal friends
Of God and country, to grovel in mystical ashes,
Pretty big prophets whose words don’t burn,
Fighting the strenuous imago all day long.
Only these lunatics, (O happy chance)
Only these are sent. Only this anaemic thunder
Grumbles on the salt flats, in rainless night:
O go home, brother, go home!
The devil’s back again,
And magic Hell is swallowing flies.
They are pounded into the Earth
like nails; move an inch,
they are driven down again.
The earth is sore with them.
It is a spiny fruit
that has lost hope
of being raised and eaten.
It can only ripen and ripen.
And men, they too are wounded.
They too are sifted from their loss
and are without hope. The core
softens. The pure flesh softens
and melts. There are thorns, there
are the dark seeds, and they end.
Magnificat – Mary Ruefle