When Singing is Called For

A long day working in both gardens ends beneath the apple tree, sharing a little wine. Swallows at dusk, lovely in their hunger. The moon rises off shadowed hills at the foot of which the river answers every unasked question ever. Where could I go that Chrisoula didn’t first make safe the way? You can only hold the hand of the dying once before the stakes clarify and the work begs you not to take it behind the barn. The teacher becomes the student yet it is the student who makes the teacher possible at all. Oh, what do I know, who wasted so many years on both ends of the same string? Yesterday at the fair three sheep watched me watch them and when I came back an hour later they rose off their knees to greet me. Of course I made arrangements with their owner to visit them! How quickly we pass through. And how easily our infirmities dissolve . . . I used to be the man who thought there was a cross out there with my name on it. I used to think pain was a privilege. But those sheep are neither lost nor confused. I sing when singing is called for now, and my tongue is the light of the world.

The World’s Longest Midnight

It’s late or it’s early: it depends on who you ask. On where you stand? Can’t you for once stop trying to get it all right? The man who was formerly the man-without-shoes and is now the man-of-no-office-at-all struggles through a vast country of yawns for yet another swallow of cheap (but certified fair trade) wine. What happens in Argentina is paid for in Massachusetts? You can’t gloss over the violence of pilgrims – it’s like shooting your gun at the guy in the mirror: some of those shards are going to fly back and cut you up good and the image doesn’t care because that’s what images are: the absence of the capacity to care. At midnight it was raining but now it isn’t, now when you step outside it’s just the sound of the rain that fell falling off the house eaves and maple leaves. Is it a sweetness or are you drinking again? The marriage saves you for its own purposes, the sentence implies it may be okay to let go of the whole subject-object-verb drama, and you can’t escape the feeling that you’re riding the wrong horse on the right road through the world’s longest midnight. A long day given to clearing the fallen elm, dragging rotten limbs across fading trillium and tossing them in the fast-filling gully, later spading and raking the garden for twenty some odd tomato plants. You have a body, you might as well use it, else what is aspirin for? Somewhere between stars and no-stars the illusion of a wounded and wounding self is perfectly briefly undone. Oh so perilously won? Such happiness in the middle of the night! These remnant grapes singing hosannas on my tongue.