Lost, as under a heavy sea,
We glide, aware of others in the dark.
The platform to a train is like a reef,
And noise – and noise of steel
Resounds from subways, as if man
Were being mined from darker depths,
Deeper still than oceans. We go down in them;
And up in space we boil ourselves away.
And all these things, transparent and opaque
To eye and ear, to hand, to heart, to sense.
I was born in Brag, New Jersey.
Held twenty lines of red-eye
To the forehead of a muse.
She had a fever
And she could not speak.
Patience, counseled she,
When I am ready I shall write
Breath is consonant to voice –
Breath speaks nothing,
Yet says all.
Before the kiss, the breath.
After one’s first cry.
After everything is over
Heaves and falls
It is absent.
It is found in spring.
In summer’s breeze
I take the pulse
I lay to rest.
Breath as of ocean
Breath as of lilacs
Wait that you hear me,
Soft on your ear.
Longing is like billiards.
A bet rides on it.
Someone bumps into you;
Somewhere you are touching.
Why are they like that – the gods?
They poke at us with sticks;
They know how we reflect
Across the village green.
Chance to us, design to them.
And then dispensed of into dust,
In rattling boards,
In silent pews.
Longing is the bet I have,
Strong enough to bend the world,
To bleed the cow as white of milk,
As I shall be bled white as snow.
And for the bones that wheel and click
Down some long eternal row
I have their promise they shall raise
The whole lot up to live again:
Longing unto, after, death,
Like an unpaid debt.
The velvet green as though brand new
Waits for children fresh from school.
For what I wait, they wait anew.
Eternal truth eternity renews.