Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waking

You could hear someone arguing
About money, a man and his wife.
You could hear them closing the little jails

No one would enter or sweep.
The inmates were thinking of water.
They would sleep standing up,

If they had to. All that summer,
Outside, you could hear
The freight cars move slowly.

When they passed, you would listen
To anything: to the counsel
Of a moth dying on the sill,

To the wind that had nothing
To say, that went on.
You loved the wind,

You loved the blackboards,
Where the equations died of perfection,
And the parables were burned herons,

Extinct. Each night you could feel
The migrations of shadows.
And you knew you had killed

No one: not your father or mother
Who sat watching TV; not your wife
Who wept and would not eat;

Not your brother who kept smiling.
You were their stranger.
You were the widow of sleep.

2.
You were a kite of ashes falling
And spreading in air.
There was no one below you.

And the Pyramids would not awaken.
The lost tribes would starve
And the jungle would be greener

Without them. The extinct
Froze into maps of ice.
You loved falling;

You loved the braille
Of starfish and the snows,
High and fatherless.

You loved fire,
And the hail that had no memory.
You loved to forget.

3.
You wake in a hotel,
In the custody of rats' eyes
Where the small wheels of clocks

Move intricately as ice or the prayers
You will not say. You knew
You would leave.

It would rain
And you would lie
In bed all day wondering

Who fathered the air.
You would listen to your own breath
And think it was no one's.

4.
You think of snow,
The blank page that forgets us,
The strangers we grow into.

Sometimes we burn so cleanly
There is nothing left.
There is the hotel in the rain,

The man and his wife arguing,
The mastodon's stillness,
The migrations of birds.

5.
The starfish is dreaming of snow.
Your father and mother sleep
And the trees inhale the light.

-Larry Levis