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of sun, the
roses. I want
to eat that
Through habit we drift suspended
somewhere between being lost
and being found.
…Why do tears come?
I believe I am happy
know what to do with it.
I’ll let it all slide down my face
and drop onto my tongue.
I sing the words:
How will I ever go back from here?
I had forgotten how to say yes. That’s the trick of heartbreak.
It makes you forget yes. The voices in my head were not kind,
so you took me to the woods to empty out.
My old shoulder was wired with pain, and there was a needle
in my hip, but we lay on a wide flat rock in the snow
as the intoxicated sun licked our faces with breathing light
like a yellow dog, simple in its joy, licking our chins and lips and necks
and a long wind came from over the mountaintop
and cooled our left sides, and the Sacramento River
wept through us like time, and spoke its liquid foolish syllables,
senseless, sensual, almost sentient, and I lay with my head
nested between your breasts and listened.
Time to climb, you said, and I felt snow-wing angelic as we snowshoed
above Castle Lake, leaving traces behind like snow rabbits
with webbed feet, silver squirrels, prints on the glass of the world,
a little evidence for angels to investigate after that death magic
resolves us to nothing again. I heard omens in the wind, psalms
in the bent warm sunlight that makes the snow mountains weep.
Something was coming, something foreign as joy, a clue
to how to live once you’re done with sorrow, a way of being
in being like a long breath exhaled, leaving a trace on the air
before it resolves again to air, the frozen lake, ice fishers waiting
for something great to rise, the mountaintop lifting
its white head in trance and saying its one good word: snow.
I was born in the gut of Blackness
from between my mother’s particular thighs
her waters broke upon blue-flowered linoleum
and turn to slush in the Harlem cold
10 PM on a full moon’s night
my head crested round as a clock
“You were so dark,” my mother said
“I thought you were a boy.”
The first time I touched my sister alive
I was sure the earth took note
but we were not new
false skin peeled off like gloves of fire
yoked flame I was
stripped to the tips of my fingers
her song written into my palms my nostrils my belly
in a language I was pleased to relearn.
No cold spirit ever strolled through my bones
on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue
no dog mistook me for a bench
nor a tree nor a bone
no lover envisioned my plump brown arms
as wings nor misnamed me condor
but I can recall without counting
canceling me out
like an unpleasant appointment
stamped in yellow red purple
except Black and choice
I cannot recall the words of my first poem
but I remember a promise
I made my pen
never to leave it
in somebody else’s blood.
There’s nothing worse
than feeling bad and not
being able to tell you.
Not because you’d kill me
or it would kill you, or
we don’t love each other.
It’s space. The sky is grey
and clear, with pink and
blue shadows under each cloud.
A tiny airliner drops its
specks over the UN Building.
My eyes, like millions of
glassy squares, merely reflect.
Everything sees through me,
in the daytime I’m too hot
and at night I freeze; I’m
built the wrong way for the
river and a mild gale would
break every fiber in me.
Why don’t I go east and west
instead of north and south?
It’s the architect’s fault.
And in a few years I’ll be
useless, not even an office
building. Because you have
no telephone, and live so
far away; the Pepsi-Cola sign,
the seagulls and the noise.
—Is where space ends called death or infinity?
Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions
A mere eyelid’s distance between you and me.
It took us a long time to discover the number zero.
John’s brother is afraid to go outside.
He claims he knows
the meaning of zero.
I want to kiss you.
A mathematician once told me you can add infinity
There is a zero vector, which starts and ends
at the same place, its force
and movement impossible
to record with
rays or maps or words.
It intersects yet runs parallel
with all others.
A young man I know
wants me to prove
the zero vector exists.
I tell him I can’t,
but nothing in my world
makes sense without it.