On the crest of the hesitating heart
What smile seizes the mouth of the hesitant penitent?
What unprecedented slowness in that smile?
What suppressed song in that smile?
And as much as gravity
As much as anticipation
As much flight as return.
What a smile! We would call it provocative yes?
If in its double audacity, in its bright boldness
It were not so damn complete
And so absent
So as not to face anyone.
I ask it
“Where is it that you are leading me?”
“Where is it that you want me to go?”
Those words wait for me everywhere I turn
And after all my days of prison
All my days of quiet contemplation
After all the memories of my incarceration
Have slipped away like an unwelcome dream.
After all the days of work
After all nights of writing
After all the echoes of past laughter and tears
That have slipped away like a forbidden lover
In the early hours of the morning.
After all I hate and after all I admire
In this chain of change
Comes the refrain
“Is it you my cell-mate, my fellow prisoner?”
You who boasts that all those charming women in your life
Loved you too much.
Is this one of them now singing above my wretched grave?
For not one of my friends has understood me;
When I weep in church
They tell me “That’s life.”
Not one of my days on this earth
Holds my hand;
I wait in vain for what I dread most:
Not one of my nights has brought me peace;
A tenderness that holds me close,
A dram, a rose…
I cannot believe that that is all there is to life.
So I flee this compromising cemetery
So full of avoidable resurrections
Like parrots drunk on necromantic words
Their impervious tongues infatuated with the sounds
And taste of the fruits our demise.
The lie is the plaything that we must shatter
It is a garden where we change pace
And find a new place
To hide ourselves better.
Or where we might let out a cry
Just to be half-found.
Is it a mask?
No, for I am much fuller with it
And the lie has such resounding eyes.
Rather it is a footless vase, an amphora
That needs us to hold it up
No doubt its handles ate its feet.
It seems what carries us completes us
And the very moment that lifts us is so remarkable.