from Letters to Michael

Dear Horatius (Dear Michael) (7)

The time of light comes back, the vapor

from water that makes the throne

comes after the light, and the book

is empty until it is not a book at all

but a garden of exquisite statues.

The throne rises out of the garden.

The garden flows to the delta, rapid.

The corpses sleep with their lovers

bodiless, thin as the water vapor

blown through stellar gases, hot

cores of constellations that falter

silent and catastrophic and with-

out meaning. These too must perish,

Horatius, the strong man and the pimp

anemone mimesis market

the crystal threads of your beloved

the crystal meanings that give delight

and hurt not: their fate is certain.

Wax tablets draw near to a furnace.

But if all of it will go away to air

was it for this that they dug pits

all those rows of year after year?

Was it for this that father crawled

out of a dungeon, a mother lost sons

and daughters fell from aeroplanes?

Wax tablets draw near to a furnace.

Does the poem vanish or does it yet

move on the back of a sphere, the words

you wrote and that I harbor in heart?

When God made the Pen and wrote

the world, did he first write the day

or the dawn, the throne or the water

it sits on; did he make the sky pale

from paper, and did the throne

always rise on the seabed, beautiful?

One day the trash compactor

will fold together like a prayer book

the wax flower and the harvest

will come to grief, the bedraggled men

caked in dirt from digging the pits

the script doctor who writes on wax

her bevel and thumbprint, the famous

syllabaries found at Knossos and paper

airplanes and kites hoisted at passages.

The throne was made before the day

and day before the water and the sun.

The light threads ropes among the trees

in a forest. Ropes of light and again

and again the light over a table

falls, and tumbles, and falls, and again

the wax melts before it is complete.