Tag Archives: mortality

Guest from the past, ghost from the future

IMG_9211

Guest from the past, ghost from the future

Here inside my body is a table for all time.
From some place in the future my ghost arrives,

Disoriented, not remembering how or when
I died but carrying a newspaper that sat

On the grass throughout the night I expired,
Saturated with dew or rain, does it matter,

And now all the words are gathered so close
from both sides of all pages, the odd and the even,

they form a single unreadable sentence.
There are no chairs around the table because

Ghosts don’t need chairs and the guest
From the past is not welcome anyway. He will be here

Any moment, even though I lied about when
Things would start, that’s how early he always is,

The past is never late. I invite him hoping my ghost
Will scare him, make him understand his end

Is inevitable. But of course he can’t change.
I end up scaring myself, my coffee goes cold.

By the time the news is dry it’s not worth reading.
This is the best table I could imagine, too, all wood,

Like the big table where Melville wrote Moby Dick
In the middle of the room on the second floor

Of a landlocked house with a view of Mt Greylock.
I can hear the turtle in the alarm flexing his muscle

And the morning air rushing in. Everything
Will be the same next time I visit, except me.

From the prayer of forgetting

receipt

From the prayer of forgetting

1
The shapes at the water’s edge
They are not your memories

They are the clothes of the drowned. Forgotten
Because they are no longer needed.

2
After a long walk through life you were tired.
You paused, hand on knee, to rest. It took

A little longer than you thought to catch
Your breath and the trees had been bulldozed

And the spiders had covered you with the silk
Of memory. I came with a single dream’s knife

And cut a slit so you could back out. Later the city
Builders saw the shape standing alone

Like a magnificent cocoon, covered
It with stone and called it a church.

3
Your soul comes to you
Like bees finding their hive

Assembling into shapes almost
Making sense to your eye

Defined by a sweetness it will never taste
And a sting it will not survive.

4
The onomatopoeia of forgot,
Regret. They sound like things

That almost are but aren’t
Solid enough to take steps

Or kneel on stone in prayer.

5
I invalidated a receipt once
By writing a poem on it.

No further exchange was
Necessary or authorized.

Like a cowbird I laid that egg
in the nest of your eyes

And you have raised it
Into something that flies

Away from you, recognizing
Neither of us as its maker.

The man who will die

cloudscape

The man who will die

Some day oh daughter, resting next to me
You will hear the breath of the man

Who will die. One day, not today, you will see
In my eyes finally the glance of a person

Who will not live forever as I saw once
In my father’s gaze, still piercing

But unable to break a veil of loneliness miles
Away where his wife sat up suddenly

Remembering only his name and not
Those of her sons or daughters. As I heard in her

Breath of resignation one day when words
Would not come and the unsayable sentence

Dropped over her head like a hangman’s hood.
But not this breath. Though for several years

I have heard it in my own breathing
Or seen it in the eyes studying me in the depth

Behind the mirror, I will keep these from you
As long as I can. And someday, not today,

When you see them you will say nothing,
Thinking surely you did not hear what you heard

Or saw what you saw. But I will know, though
I will already have begun to forget why.