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two poems.


I thought about the dead and the myriad

as if they perched on my shoulder all the time

talking in my ear--though I can't hear them,

stuck here in the ghetto of the living. Well then, let

the comfort of gloryland and angels like cats of different

sizes with their fierce wings and purring blow

some semblance of faith back to me. And what

of my brother, dead, who clowning

held a gun to his head and blew himself

into the nebula sac while someone cried

come back.. . where in the name of dust

has he risen, what star claims him?

Tonight, under the bare bulb, no wind through

the dusty curtain, only the memory of the woman

on the silver bus clutching packages on her lap

who turned to me and said In the next world

I won't have to carry anything,

and I almost added, Or wash my hair. And my feet

will be straight again, and point forward.

I should have said, I want to love better.

Or I should have turned to her so we

could rock together, shoulder to shoulder,

mute but full of the same desire to be

unburdened, redone as flint or air. And

I wanted to say what I sometimes remembered when

I was rich in remembering, how even the pitted brick

on the buildings seemed brimming with love,

and how long it had been since I felt such things.

I wanted to tell her it was the light this side

of everything and no matter what happened

there would always be humming, a thin melody

of divine bees, rotting wood, the buzz of those

we no longer hear. Or I should have run

home and begged you to stay with me

in the city of the living, under star-ash,

under the roar of angels laughing and their

fingers long as rivers, with my bags of salt

and your eyes like trees drawing down

the light, since your name is more than

half-written and mine is traced in chalk,

and I could have told you what the dead know-

how failed I am in love, how much I've forgotten-

though I never again want to know the future

and I think it's fine if the dead stay dead no matter

how much I miss them or all I never

risked for them, and I saw my hand

lifting into air as my hand passing through

a hundred worlds at once because the dead

are better at forgiveness and I'm

lousy at it, worse as the years go on,

and I thought it was fine not to know so much,

and now that I live by a river

I should get wet everyday, and if I want to feel

how the dead move I should take up rowing.


Ocean is the first noise of wilderness, a slapping and

rolling, think of internal thunder or

hissing which is everywhere even under the cement of cities.

It's the drenching of the lightless that lifts

to absorb you no matter how one man learned to kick

the sharks' heads and stupefy them

or how he could swim five miles in the cold sea, swells and all,

and his title was Rescue; even so,

someone was always singing that same song--Walking the

Edge--and almost no one

heard it, not until they were drenched did it all become clear,

as they say, but clarity is the other side

of whatever I've tasted though I've had a drop or two

in my time and it was so sweet

so absolute I had to lose it over and over it was a drop

of water in the mind's pool and for

an instant it hovered holding perfect light then fell

and I could feel it inside me, floodlit,

and I could have that clarity for a cost, for a moment, for

blood, like seeing into the meaning of a leaf,

or of mist, the meaning of meaning, where love, as a force,

becomes inevitable, not the ruin I thought

I made, not the desolation I thought I knew but a clarity that

was there all the time, brilliant,

metallic, its taste down my back a ringing of sorts,

just a drop that ended in

the wilderness of mind and was lost like all the others.

ANNE MARIE MACARI is the author of Ivory Cradle, winner of the 2000 APR/Honickman First Book Prize.
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Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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