Walking Up To A Deserted
ghosts of black angus snort steam into the speckled air of empty barn; torrents of water hiss against damp dirty straw; chewing echoes from wall to wall. new-shaven sheep nose spring lambs from field to field, whisper to the young, “all this is yours once, then you’ll be eaten.” meat once lived here, its scent rises from earth in a clout of gnats golden in sun. now swallows and bats flap against twilight, pieces of wild windy rag. you can hear the cries of dying insects tumbling in the almost-evening air above the graveyard of fields: “help us, help” they cry; but the bats, deaf and darting reap the full floating fields, ravenous for night, defy all that has lived for another meal.
come close, little girl, get to know the music of my breathing, rough as February gales in stiff trees; my bulging form, impenetrable as a Christmas graveyard. your time was summer, all things dewy and minute, a world yielding, benign, the sun lathering your limbs in the long day’s indulgence. but, half-hidden under stockings and coat your swelling self tells me my time has come. with stiff fingers unbutton yourself to me, child, feel my frigid lips and fingertips rasp slowly down your limbs. let the silver thrill of me shiver you between your legs. the only pain you’ll know is that I must end too soon; grow up, little one, be old. your own heart fashioned me, dreamed a shape to what had been all too diffuse; now don’t leave me godless, frozen in this place for winter’s white ever-after. pour your youth along my comic form: fire us both away from time and wind. —but where are you going? can any parent explain how I need? come back, come back, lover: don’t leave without one long kiss.
May 26: Mariana,
The Lily Of Quito
she frightened herself to sleep each Friday night in a tiny pine coffin, its tight-fitting lid the wall that kept that other darkness away; played in the nursery with pallid corpse dolls branded with the cross, angels and lengths of chain no longer than her limbs. although hair shirts worshipped her little-girl flesh, a wire girdle kept her from knowing herself, locked her in a convent of purity; she crowned her cloistered pain with iron spike and thorns; but such menial penance was not enough to make her feel the world, so she prayed that the earthquake and plague heaving Quito up into heaven be distilled; poured in a chalice, that she might drink. she drank; the city grew still; scream and thunder went away. but she left suddenly, broken and convulsed at twenty-six, astonished that something as selfish and human as dying could bring such pleasure.