I count more graves than people in my sleep,
but nothing turns more quickly
than an empty wind
in a place whose memory has died.
And all manner of departure: What you have left is you
without you. As if it could be different, as if decades
could withdraw and draft a blueprint of motive and action,
returning them, returning you, to that point
across the sea where the ship has not yet arrived.
If you ask she will say it does not matter. If you ask.
To be within, yet without, as in the unuttered phrase.
It is time the stone made an effort to flower,
to render the void clear and resolute, the diction of
separation divided by decades and your ocean.
The language of silence, drawn near.
3. From the Other Side
Sometime becomes never and steps around a desolate corner,
and all we have left is our field
awash in stone, remnants of the unspoken.
I have no memory of you. Nor you, of me,
but the strands do not lie, and unraveled,
expose the imperfect blends
that compose my love. A leaky roof. The last word.
A pity to put up at all
but there is rain.
4. Another Night
Of all the hours which were the longest?
The earth trembled around me
and I lay still, bearing witness to
the uncertain malice of its
shrug, shoulders brought to
fore, then returned,
and finally, released. If,
after this half-century, words
could reform in your mouth,
what denial would issue?
Ashes, washing ashore.
And seeing you only as the shadow of an
ending whose voice lies
in an uncommon past, how
may we recognize the very shape we share?
The bridge’s fate is loneliness,
knowing that one side
decries the other’s
call, that separation affords new light:
they are between
comfort and space, between words and a smile,
between nothingness and sorrow,
two points, beginning and end,
reaching, in opposition, towards each other.
“What you have left is you without you” is from Edmond Jabes’s “At the Threshold of the Book” in The Book of Questions: Volume I, translated by Rosemary Waldrop.
“It is time the stone made an effort to flower” is from Paul Celan’s poem “Corona,” included in Poems of Paul Celan translated by Michael Hamburger.
“A pity to put up at all but there is rain” is from Basho’s Back Roads to Far Towns, translated by Cid Corman and Kamake Susumu.
Albert Huffstickler’s poem “Bridges” which appeared in The Balcones Review in 1987, begins “They are between…”
“Elegy” first appeared on Underfoot Poetry in October 2017.