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And there was a booming above you
That night black airplanes flew over the sea
And they were lowing and shifting like
Beached whales
Shelled snails
As you strained and you squinted to see
The retreat of their hairless and blind cavalry

You froze in your sand shoal
Prayed for your poor soul;
Sky seemed a bread roll, soaking in a milk-bowl

And when the bread broke —
Fell in bricks of wet smoke —
My sleeping heart woke, and my waking heart spoke

Then there was a silence you took to mean something:
Mean, Run, sing
For alive you will evermore be
And the plague of the greasy black engines a-skulking
Has gone east
While you’re left to explain them to me —
Released
From their hairless and blind cavalry

With your hands in your pockets
Stubbily running
To where I’m unfresh
Undressed and yawning —

Well, what is this craziness?
This crazy talking?
You caught some small death
When you were sleepwalking

It was a dark dream, darlin;
It’s over
The firebreather is beneath the clover
Beneath his breathing there is cold clay, forever:
A toothless hound-dog choking on a feather

But I took my fishing pole (fearing your fever)
Down to the swimming hole, where there grows a bitter herb
That blooms but one day a year, by the riverside —
I’d bring it here:

Apply it gently
To the love you’ve lent me

While the river was twisting and braiding, the bait bobbed
And the string sobbed
As it cut through the hustling breeze

And I watched how the water was kneading so neatly
Gone treacly
Nearly slowed to a stop in this heat;
Frenzy coiling flush along the muscles beneath

Press on me
We are restless things
Webs of seaweed are swaddling
You call upon the dusk of the
Musk of a squid:
Shot full of ink, until you sink into your crib

Rowing along, among the reeds, among the rushes
I heard your song, before my heart had time to hush it!
Smell of a stonefruit being cut and being opened
Smell of a low and of a lazy cinder smoking

And when the fire moves away
Fire moves away, son
Why would you say
I was the last one?

Scrape your knee: it is only skin
Makes the sound of violins

When I cut your hair, and leave the birds all the trimmings
I am the happiest woman among all women

And the shallow water stretches as far as I can see
Knee deep, trudging along —
The seagull weeps ‘so long’ —
I’m humming a threshing song —

Until the night is over, hold on
Hold on;
Hold your horses back from the fickle dawn

I have got some business out at the edge of town
Candy weighing both of my pockets down
Till I can hardly stay afloat, from the weight of them
(and knowing how the commonfolk condemn
What it is I do, to you, to keep you warm:
Being a woman. Being a woman.)

But always up the mountainside you’re clambering
Groping blindly, hungry for anything;
Picking through your pocket linings —
Well, what is this?
Scrap of sassafras, eh Sisyphus?

I see the blossoms broke and wet after the rain
Little sister, he will be back again
I have washed a thousand spiders down the drain
Spiders’ ghosts hang, soaked and
Dangling silently, from all the blooming cherry trees
In tiny nooses, safe from everyone —
Nothing but a nuisance; gone now, dead and done —
Be a woman. Be a woman

Though we felt the spray of the waves
We decided to stay, 'till the tide rose too far
We weren’t afraid, cause we know what you are;
And you know that we know what you are

Awful atoll —
O, incalculable indiscreetness and sorrow!
Bawl bellow:
Sibyl sea-cow, all done up in a bow
Toddle and roll;
Teethe an impalpable bit of leather
While yarrow, heather and hollyhock
Awkwardly molt along the shore

Are you mine?
My heart?
Mine anymore?

Stay with me for awhile
That’s an awfully real gun
I know life will lay you down
As the lightning has lately done

Failing this, failing this
Follow me, my sweetest friend
To see what you anointed
In pointing your gun there
Lay it down! Nice and slow!
There is nowhere to go

Save up;
Up where the light, undiluted, is
Weaving, in a drunk dream
At the sight of my baby, out back:

Back on the patio
Watching the bats bring night in

— while, elsewhere
Estuaries of wax-white
Wend, endlessly, towards seashores unmapped

*

Last week, our picture window
Produced a half-word
Heavy and hollow
Hit by a brown bird

We stood and watched her gape like a rattlesnake
And pant and labor over every intake

I said a sort of prayer for some rare grace
Then thought I ought to take her to a higher place
Said, “dog nor vulture nor cat shall toy with you
And though you die, bird, you will have a fine view.”

Then in my hot hand, she slumped her sick weight
We tramped through the poison oak, heartbroke and inchoate
The dogs were snapping, so you cuffed their collars
While I climbed the tree-house. Then how I hollered!

Cause she’d lain, as still as a stone, in my palm, for a lifetime or two;
Then saw the treetops, cocked her head, and up and flew
(While back in the world that moves, often, according to
The hoarding of these clues
Dogs still run roughly around
Little tufts of finch-down

The cities we passed were a flickering wasteland,
But his hand, in my hand, made them hale and harmless

While down in the lowlands, the crops are all coming;
We have everything

Life is thundering blissful towards death

In a stampede
Of his fumbling green gentleness

You stopped by;
I was all alive
In my doorway, we shucked and jived
And when you wept, I was gone;
See, I got gone when I got wise
But I can’t with certainty say we survived

Then down and down
And down and down
And down and deeper
Stoke, without sound
The blameless flames
You endless sleeper

Through fire below
And fire above
And fire within

Sleep through the things that couldn’t have been
If you hadn’t have been

And when the fire moves away
Fire moves away, son
Why would you say
I was the last one?

All my bones, they are gone, gone, gone
Take my bones, I don’t need none
Cold, cold cupboard, lord, nothing to chew on!
Suck all day on a cherry stone
Dig a little hole not three inches round —
Spit your pit in a hole in the ground
Weep upon the spot for the starving of me!
Till up grows a fine young cherry tree
When the bough breaks, what’ll you make for me?
A little willow cabin to rest on your knee
What’ll I do with a trinket such as this?
Think of your woman, who’s gone to the west
But I’m starving and freezing in my measly old bed!
Then I’ll crawl across the salt flats, to stroke your sweet head
Come across the desert with no shoes on!
I love you truly
Or I love no-one

Fire moves away. Fire moves away, son
Why would you say that I was the last one, last one?

Clear the room! There’s a fire, a fire, a fire
Get going
And I’m going to be right behind you

And if the love of a woman or two, dear
Couldn't move you to such heights
Then all I can do
Is do, my darling, right by you

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