You were cruel to leave me alone,
With only my hands, and
Only my art.
In your absence I turned the chisel
Against my own longing,
My despair entered this stone,
And like nerve pulling at nerve
I retrieved your impossible, naked
Soul from its guts.
See how your shoulders arch here,
Where the light becomes sharp and unforgiving,
This is where I first cut my heart out
With your touch.
And here, where your hair plunges
Like a leviathan of caresses,
Down into the unhewn rock,
Here my belief in the separateness
Of our bodies finally fails.
I am curled into every curve,
And surge and retreat of your terrible absence.
When you return, you
Will discover I have gone quite mad.
Night after night in my atelier
I have disemboweled myself,
A dozen new figures to worship your savagery.
No, let me turn now and go away
From your too complete fierceness.
Until you the women I loved
Remained encased in my art,
Figures I could bend in plaster, bronze,
With violence, with tenderness.
But then you burst forth,
And refusing this clay immortality
All men offer,
Deigned from the beginning
And I loved you,
Because to my sensuality you offered this
What in me had grown too smooth, yielding,
Discovered suddenly, in you,
A disheveled beauty that far outstripped me,
And my art became frightening.
From you I learned the craft of agony,
The torn open garden of your female genius,
That is now mine.
And what I create is ugly and essential,
The breasts of my women are inhuman,
The loins of my men collapse the world,
And those who look upon my art
Spit at its feet and turn away in contempt.
You have given me this triumph,
Returned to me stone and soil.
But I want myself back,
My languid hurt.
Your too full madness imprisons me,
And I don’t know what my art means,
For it surpasses us both
And annihilates our purpose.
No, let me turn now and go away
From your perfect love.
I saw my friend’s heart break open
In the foyer, in the university,
At the cold screen,
The absurd message,
And the unspeakable loss.
She is gone,
Beyond the world’s
Long piercing cries of the world.
She is lost to the carnage of the day,
So filled with its lives going up escalators
And falling from bridges.
Now she is one of them
And holds all the mute words
We will never hear,
And our sorrow is the echo of her going.
There is no stopping the world
From bringing us to these distances,
Between heart and hand,
Between love and mouth,
Between grief and shore.
It goes on, always ahead of us,
Singing with the ones we love,
And we remain
With our stomachs burnt with yearning,
Exultant in our loss.
I saw my friend’s heart break open,
In the foyer,
With the lights of the city burning,
Raw and unreachable.
I saw his love,
I touched the nearness of everything.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells.
It rises at street corners,
or in morning gardens hurt by the rising sun.
Sometimes on the breeze
I smell you before I arrive at your chipped red door,
scent of dinner for two, baked sweet potatoes,
scones with cream and jam,
the things you make from the songs you hum to yourself;
out of these your soul wafts
through this drunken garden to me.
The summer is in your dress as you turn in the window,
the sky is in your eyes,
sky overflowing with a bouquet of cranes,
And your world is in your embrace as I cross the threshold,
as I press myself to your impermanence,
and it is lighter than any migration,
than any wing, or moth, or mantis.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells,
and I seek it out with kisses,
which I plant like little assassins on your agile neck.
You left me cold last night,
and the sky threatened to
erase all my love.
You turned from me,
and a silence, heavy like wet earth
buried me forever.
I do not like to be left alone
without your love’s last word,
to fill in the spaces of broken meaning,
to retrace a collapsed street of kisses.
Seduced by visions of wicked schemes,
I go, breaking off rose stems, hyacinths,
in this barbed night you bequeath me.
I dance alone, beneath a tottering moon.
With a twisted smile,
I rejoice in love’s destructions.
Like a riot of careless children,
the hydrangeas return to my garden.
They love the violence of the wind,
they dare it to unfurl them from the stamen,
to become a sail of pure disarrangement.
they out-do the infinite hues of the sky,
they out-sing the clouds.
And they are beautiful and full of hungers,
and they have forgotten the agony
of last summer’s drought.
And I am in love with their petulant hearts.
So, you’ve packed your things
and you’re ready to go.
On a little leaf folded into a dinghy,
you set off on a great, wild wind.
It’s all too big for you,
for me alone, I fear.
You’ll smash to pieces
on some calamitous street,
or a handsome hotel drifter
will hold you tight,
and on some cheap and neon night,
ruin your pretty little feet.
I’ll read about it in the paper,
and lose my appetite,
and my day will retreat into its room
and never speak to me again.
But that’s okay,
because if I’m honest,
you’re more like the apricot’s hard core
leaping on a tide of world.
I’ll never see you again,
that’s for sure,
but you’ll grow sweeter in my mouth,
with a sweetness that is sad.
And like me,
the lovers of all your hours,
bewitched and inconsolable,
will break their lips on your dark pip.