A Cargo of Green Hearts
when I have trouble sleeping
I recite love poems to stars
old friends who
tethered mariners to horizons
and kept them from sailing off
the sharp tabletop of earth
just one star is enough
one thin argent dime
to reach up, pluck one down
put it in my mouth
how sweet a single drop
of honey on a lost tongue
how kind, a single candle in
the sky never seems to run out
the darkness, full of them
as if someone knew how
much we'd stumble about
wringing blood from
tired hearts in narrow closets
and scattered them like vowels
with which to string out
love from the slippery L
the gouging V
see how my hands like nets
are teeming with them now
the light humming like
fireflies, can you feel it
how with these words
I am pouring them all over
your sorrowful head
love, you woke me, 4a.m.
to listen to a single drop of rain
touch this parched earth.
all the noisy birds of this
world fly above the water.
a loon surfaces on the lake
dark being with an eye
like a garnet. it says, "no matter
how many times I surface
nothing sustains me here.
all the real food is down down down"
and dives. seeing it vanish relieves
me of all these lead tombstones
all the doing we do. somewhere
else, the earth is turning, people are
making Great Plans. the machines
we make keep telling us what
machines we should make.
the Buddha says "shhhh. trouble
is son, you think you have time."
before my grandparents died
they began to exist more in
the morning and evening.
by midday they were already
gone. there isn't a ripple
on the water at those hours.
the depths are as blue as tired blood
returning to a heart.
it's a miracle we don't die
of exhaustion every night
clenching and clenching.
but listen, every lake tells the same story:
"let me lean out over the water
just a little more," said the cedar.
"my reflection was so sweet but
now I am in love with falling in."
the rain is desperate to reach the ground
it hums in the clouds like a swarm of bees
the moon waits like the eye of a hawk
for the earth to bow. earth says: okay. I've never
refused before. the sky says: Blue. that's all.
tall trees are reaching to touch that face
with fingers like numerals counting and sorting
the thready air. the frogs fill this hive of silence
how they gulp up all the syllables make more of this
make more of that. listen to the waterfall shout
Down! and the river Away!
yes, we think we are going somewhere.
Durga, the world is telling me so many incredible
things at once. lie beneath or on top of me
it doesn't matter; after our lovemaking on the grass
and just before sleep as if through a cracked
window I hear all the little voices again
how they return to me like children
I thought I'd lost.
the nights are long here, Varahi. Say something
that will make me breathe the way
the light breathes. I am having trouble
finding my shoes. the clouds slip away
and I miss them the way lovers miss
the contact of thighs. do you see this dream?
I have kept it in my dresser for decades.
Someone slipped it into a letter
addressed to me. I've lost the letter.
I've lost so much. how are we to hold onto
all these things that are pushed our way
when there is so much space between our fingers?
It was a joke, someone said. the hand and
its stupid fingers. but then I recalled your eyes.
so blue. with both hands I laid my whole
heart before your eyes and never dropped
a single drop. it was serious business,
that kind of humility. like polishing gold.
like being a surgeon to flowers.
here in the dark world someone keeps
slipping green leaves under my door.
they are piling up. it does remind me
of that time when I was a kid. I kept throwing
coins in the wishing well. then, one day,
they were gone. and my wishes, all of them,
swam away. the leaves, too will disappear
and return to clothe the trees. the mailman
will take back all the old letters.
the sky will sail away with all my doors.
the light will teach me how to breathe
the way the sun breathes. all of this sadness
will make sense. I will want all of it, every drop,
the way the water wanted all of my wishes.
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