The Night People Imagine, The Birds Shoot Straight Up
The Night People Imagine
The world of the blind is not the night people imagine.
Jorge Luis Borges
A piece of twig or leaf stem not an inch long,
it gropes across the playground table’s green plank top.
My daughters rock swings into the invisible space of air
beneath bare trees, coats open. The field of sight alive,
the road and houses, the hills and houses, alive
only because they arc in, course out, and render its edges.
Or otherwise occupy a night in Eden that did not exist
except for a brief rain, after which it dissolved.
Except for that love that grieves me.
Or later, the empty swings hanging by their chains
or the forecast snow that will give, briefly, its one life
that I must follow out.
The worm bodied forth, bent and crept like cane taps
in a blind man’s hand or the hand itself bobbing in the dark,
just as I have felt my way, neither knowing how far
or what hour, except that love that grieves me.
And for one night in Eden, the dark does not exist,
and we won’t in the morning be separated—
a sighted conceit. Early on, the dark dissembles.
And light remains nested, threads inter-worked
of other murky blue skies, other births,
pieces of other sleepers and their dreams bent together,
shoes and combs, wrist-watches and stairs,
an unpaired glove, doorknobs and windowpanes
and the hat left in leaves, consciousness itself
a luminous and embered bush, the voice its leafing flames.
The Birds Shoot Straight Up
In that time that seemed not to pass
like listening for bird trills in the deep shade
he waited too for the bus at the roadside standing near the morning after he died
and showed the way birds give themselves over
when water spills all night from the ditch troughs the loud sloughs of passing cars in the wet road
people standing apart then rushing up to board
the blow of the heater and clatter of coins in the till that time turning to him might interrupt his visit
when my grandfather stayed on at the stop
it was like watching bathing birds shoot straight up enduring that light even as they expose themselves
he waved in the place he had stood just then
a quake of wing before becoming part of the trees