It is cold enough for rain
to coagulate & fall in heavy drops.
Tonight a skin of ice will grow
over the bones of the smallest bush,
making it droop like the wrist
of someone carrying a heavy suitcase. This moving on,
from season to season, is exhausting
& violent, the break from the Berlin Wall
of winter especially. Like a frostbitten
hand coming to life, I color
first with warmth,
then with pain. Thawing, letting
the great powers go
their own way, in rivers & in flesh,
frightens me, as this day
warns me of an icy night.
Each year I am astonished
at the havoc we have wrought
on other lives: fathers
made tiny by cancer, a mother
swollen around a bad heart
“brought on by aggravation.”
To suffer is to do something new
yet always the same—
a change of life
from the sexual dread. Some women
wish they were men, some men
wish they were dead; still,
there is coin in suffering.
Suffering makes us
rich as Croesus in his golden tears,
& we are rarely hated for it.
This coin I store in a purse
made of mother’s milk
& flesh, which God says I must not mix.
I use it to seek pleasure.
Walking around with this thing in me
all day, this loving cup
full of jelly, waiting for you
to come home—seven o’clock,
eight o’clock, eighty-thirty.
What could be more important
than love? I can’t imagine; you can.
Not a good day, not about to get better.
The bird comes complete
with heart, liver, & neck-bone
wrapped chastely in white paper.
the legs are hard to separate.
Inside, wax paper sticks to ribs.
I reach like a vet delivering pigs
Or a boy finger-fucking a virgin.
Air the same sweet
temperature inside the house
as outside the house.
Stepping up from the cellar
with an armful of sheets
I listen for the dirge of flies
Under the chittering birds, both
Painfully loud. There is a stridency
that’s stubborn in a life
grown by inches: the fat
little fingers of buds bursting,
ugly ducklings, the slow war
of day against night.
As I pin the swelling sheets
with clothespins damp & too
narrow at the mouth, I wonder how
flies know to come out
to feed the birds, & feast themselves
on the new stillborn, this stubborn
great chain of being …