Here by the river,
between the train yard
and the freeway
(a quarter million cars per day),
the rhyme of oxygen and fuel
grains the air with particles,
some so fine they lodge
in lungs or cross
the blood-brain barrier
of the 100,000 people
in the circle of my hearing:
the hum and scream of tires,
tuba of jake brakes,
a train bell ringing
across the yard, sky shake
of the engine, and the honk
of geese as they rise
from the water to the air,
kids playing across the street,
and the sound of my breathing.
The Dark Night
On a dark night, happy, burning
with want, I went unnoticed
from my quiet house in shadow,
took the back stairs without stopping.
Disguised, that moonless night,
in secret and without light, without
any guide but my desire, I walked
as sure as noon to where he waited
to know me well, where no one saw.
Night that guided me, I thank you.
Night that united lover and beloved,
beloved and lover, beloved and Love,
night more loveable than dawn, you taught
my heart to grow flowers for him alone
as he lay sleeping and I touched his hair
beneath the fanning cedar. He reached so
calmly for my neck and wounded me there,
I hardly felt myself stop breathing,
but I stayed, and I forgot myself.
I rested my face on him and let everything go,
every worry to the grass, all harm forgotten.
After I fell asleep, trees sprung and flared and fell.
My hands trembled as I dreamed that an empire stormed
across the mantelpiece, and silence overcame
the school. The Milky Way unwound. Insurance men
in raincoats poured out across the city, with plans
spiral bound in black briefcases, until downtown
marched behind cranes to the bending river. Grown old,
grandkids sat on porches and took up the lap steel
guitar or shuffled through old pinup girls, seconds
of pie waiting on plates, while watching grandchildren
at play outside, their faces blurring over mine,
one spring afternoon that seemed to last forever.