Thursday, February 11, 2010

May Day

Photograph by Al Wiedzmin


I want to know what it means
this May this might the roman road
the left and the right
the blue hydrangea
blossoming dew-drenched in the lost garden,
ivy ripped off brick, old black car
full of the family on its way into exile
with no dog, exile is rudimentary,
exile is the most common flower,
what does it mean, the empty basilica
the beggars on the steps of every building,
the empty beer bottle at roadside
under the hedge by the whippoorwill’s nest,
the birds and their restless upward home-
careening Jerusalem pilgrimages,
can it be that some of them never come back,
is flying as futile as it seems, is beauty,
up and up and always fall back, groundling
drowned among the nenuphars, are you,
are you beyond beyond, the one I mean,
what does it mean to be a mirror
and have somebody look you in the eye
and say I am fifty years old today or eighty
or finally I turn thirteen, and it’s the same
someone, the same one, woman or man,
what does it mean to say I as if
that little word is question and answer
all complete and good forever,
what does it mean to open a mouth
and say something and wait
and wait for an answer, o that gap
or yawn of time when your mouth
is open o that is good, that is gap
and time rushes past unchanging,
and who is speaking, and even more
tragically, preposterously, protestantly,
who could possibly be listening,
are you, does the tree bark listen,
and why, what does it mean to be
moved by another, what does it mean,
this one dove on one lawn, and a
green leaf rake leaning on a linden tree,
to get there without seed, without seeking
and be greasy with sheer finding,
lamb fat and basil, warm yogurt sauce
with olive oil attuning the fragments,
salt and cinnamon, to examine the leaf
until you forget all about death and the crow
hollers at you from the hill don’t leave yet
the movie is only beginning, just cup
your empty hand over your empty ears
and listen to the dancers, their heavy grace
pounding on the stage, on the hollow ground,
listen, and what does it mean when birds
start talking and you start understanding
and the subway map seems unfamiliar
and the gorgeous overpass at Smith-9th Street
looks out over endless Ukrainian grasslands,
and you wake up before dawn at all asking
suppose all this while I was wrong, suppose
everything really is different, I was born
with the wrong bones and don’t have a clue,
and you get up and stare out the window
we all have windows, I pray we all have windows,
and you see something out there, anything
a cat or a fence or a car singing to itself
and you say this is my clue, this, and go back
to sleep and never know it and you wake
with us in a world full of clues, everything
everywhere gibbering and making signs
read me, read me and weep, read me, omnia
exeunt in mysterium, everything that exists
is grounded in mystery and this mystery
holds your hand and kisses the nape of your neck
and whispers Darling, there is a whole
number smaller than one, there is an animal
you can catch in any woods, you can hitch it
to a wagon you can learn how to build
and it will draw you slowly to a place
with no shadow where you can learn one
other thing, and the very one you love
will press that beloved hand of theirs firmly
on your bare skin and tell you yes
you love me for a reason, I am your reason,
since every secret is hidden in the other,
begin with the other, the scary person even you
can hear at night rummaging around and moaning
under the ruins of the burnt down church, no moon.

Robert Kelly

Posted over on Charlotte Mandell

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