i’m afraid this ship is on fire
they do not create the universe,
they simply find it one day
ripples and waves are coming across the continent
as the glacier melts,
and i ask him:
what do creeks and rivers want to do?
leave your armor on the shore
and gorge yourself on prickly pears.
you will find chocolate and birds-of-paradise feathers
as far as Idaho
sage flowers taste like honey
and prickly ash will numb your mouth
crush wasp galls and boil their powder
to dress your wounds
even the smothering greenbriar
will give its flesh and roots to you
for the first time in my life i feel
my feet are firmly planted on this earth,
on this land. i feel like i belong here
where everything must go somewhere:
beautiful armadillo and yesterday’s camel walk side by side
swift foxes and red wolves trail in their steps.
i cannot revise them to make my own
only a past clearly mine feels worth having.
i don’t know what kind of history this town had,
but I feel certain that it had a history
the road to the church was paved with pure silver,
while they choked in the mines.
i hoped to find the pattern that animates the still world
and harmonize with it.
forests fell and soil eroded under my feet
my architecture is evidence
of light and shadow.
my hands lift a child from a ditch,
my swift fingers make a rope
from a lace-leafed yukka,
I caress an animal,
I count silver coins,
they rise and fall
do not say what the spirits are,
but tell me what they are not
I never felt their deaths were
i was tired of moist earth.
before i put a lock on the garden gate,
wind sang me to sleep every night
the darkness comes every night
before the final earth
impregnated with asphalt,
hidden under the matrices of prior decisions
of the great inland sea
that extended all the way to the Arctic
there, if I tread gently on the swampy ground,
strangers will hold their flickering lights for me.
they have seen the great Pan,
but didn’t jump the claim
or the meaning
I have seen evasion,
there are no poets in my republic,
but here is the anchor
i have seen conspicuous gallantry in action.
i have seen versions of the past
that make the present
my language is in a state of vast humiliation
by things once possessed
that cannot be done without
it is better to remember than to write down
the elder kin who have seen the glacier retreat whisper
the drought here,
in the wilderness of time,
never ends with a whimper
the smallest monkey of the forest
gives my soul to a big fish that passes it on
down and under until it reaches the bottom of the ancient sea
travelers by night,
cliff edges crumble,
travelers by night,
never turn your back to the ocean
do not tell me what is going to happen,
what is not going to take place