We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
But going back toward childhood will not help.
The village is not better than Pittsburgh.
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh.
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound
of raccoon tongues licking the inside walls
of the garbage tub is more than the stir
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever.
We should insist while there is still time. We must
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already in our bed to reach the body within that body.
Of course it was a disaster.
That unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.
It was in the transcept of the church, winter in
the stones, the dim light brightening on her,
when Linda said, Listen. Listen to this, she said.
When he put his ear against the massive door,
there were spires singing inside. He hunted for it
afterward. In Madrid, he heard a bell begin somewhere
in the night rain. Worked his way through
the tangle of alleys, the sound deeper and more
powerful as he got closer. Short of the plaza,
it filled all of him and he turned back. No need,
he thought, to see the bell. It was not the bell
he was trying to find, but the angel lost
in our bodies. The music that thinking is.
He wanted to know what he heard, not to get closer.
Having the Having
I tie knots in the strings of my spirit
to remember. They are not pictures
of what was. Not accounts of dusk
amid the olive trees and that odor.
The walking back was the arriving.
For that there are three knots
and a space and another two
close together. They do not imitate
the inside of her body, nor her clean
mouth. They cannot describe, but they
can prevent remembering it wrong.
The knots recall. The knots
are blazons marking the trail
back to what we own and imperfectly
forget. Back to a bell ringing
far off, and the sweet summer darkening.
All but a little of it blurs and leaks
away, but that little is the most of it,
even damaged. Two more knots
and then just straight string.
I could keep going for the whole night, typing his words to try to better figure out what he says. The plan was to type one poem a night, but jack Gilbert's Collected sits on my shelf, haunting, all folded down corners and sticky notes. I couldn't type the poems about Michiko dying. That is not a knowing I hunger for. But the depth of his love and the way words embrace all he is trying to figure out, remember, or understand. Yes. This.
a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat.