“Peace,” says the soprano,
retired to the sea, “is this tide
licking the stilts of my house.”
Her toe strokes the rug,
she flicks an ash, goes early
to bed with a glass of gin.
In her closet, a red cloak
keeps Aida’s sweat from 1963.
Mornings, she strolls the winter
beach, white hair touching
scarlet shoulders. O terra, addio.
The Chinese masseuse leans
her palms on a sill above
Main Street, hears the howl
of the Burlington Northern
Santa Fe. Grandmother bent
to pick rice in Yunan Province.
What are these empty streets,
fields of alien corn?
She starts the tape of reed-
flute melodies, attends the next
body’s tides, same West
or East, home or away, thin
or fat with strange food.
Always currents to listen to.
The girl kept goldfish in a bowl,
a snail to clean their leavings.
When the bright fish died,
she watched him climb the glass,
feelers quaking. He pursued
the algae, blazing a trail, his
toothed tongue scraping.
The panes turned opaque.
Sometimes a ray pierced his
mossy domain. Did he feel
her presence when she tapped?
You are beautiful
But you are also heartbreak
Locked forever frozen in time
A cry I cannot get out
No matter how much I grease myself
Pink palette of grapefruit, the book on the shoulder
Of the room, the rose gardens
But I do not want you to be so
I want to be spilling forth with the acid yellow honey of the bees
O love, take me thusforth
Into your secret places
I will never travel
I will never wake
You are more than heartbreak
In your fanciful suits and closing sighs
You are more than the shining blue room
On the afternoon of the date, the cold bite
You are the hot breath too I take myself into
The hot red fruit I take myself into
The living breathing thing I take in, I want to
Be a watery nymph in a wooded grove
I want to be a cloud so full of honey
That there is nothing left of me
Until I throw myself into the fire
And am contained forever
I will be contained forever, a thing of beauty
I will be that thing forever
I don’t want to be beautiful with you
I want to be an ugly, wretched, bleeding thing
Pouring out on the windmills
I want to be the locked tiger they can’t lock up
Until it murders and then rages through the fields
Of wild grasses
I want to be so wild they can’t lock me up
Put fences around me to pen me in
I will be so full of fire that they won’t be able to extinguish me
Before the beauty comes I want to be so full of fire
That they can’t tell me from you, my wretched angel
Sweet animal, they locked us in this life
But I think we still have time before we have to get out of it