THE DNA OF THE HEART: A VALENTINE
I rummaged through my closet for a costume,
trying on old hats, old ties, a vest
to cloak my heart, but took instead this pantoum,
its looping, lilting form. Who would have guessed
that trying on old hats, old ties, a vest,
I'd come across the Muse’s double helix,
her looping lilting form? I should have guessed
this twist of hearts en route to the River Styx.
I came across the Muse’s double helix—
no costume, but a wheeling with aplomb,
our twirling hearts en route to the River Styx,
the twine of two, the we that we’ve become—
and wear for mask these words: Repeat! Repeat!
Don't cloak your heart, listen to this pantoum,
go naked into love—your only feat—
don't rummage through your closet for a costume.
DURING THE ANTHRAX ATTACKS I WATCHED SOME THISTLE SEEDS COME UNGLUED IN A SHARP WIND, AND I WROTE THIS
When I have thought of nothing interesting
for several weeks, and all the TV news
is full of the ill world’s virulent sting,
and I “know” there is no God, there is no Muse,
when every tack I take on the job fails
to ratchet down the matter-of-fact details,
and the big boss tells the little boss I’ve got—
for career redemption—one last shot,
when I come home and resurrect the cat,
long dead, and kick it up and down the hall
trying to wreck our marriage after all,
and in my throat my heart hangs like a bat,
I’m sometimes rescued by the Earth, its naïve
turn toward rot, and spring, like mortal love.
we sleep back into our separate selves,
but our bodies will have none of it.
Shin by shin they lie,
arm over breast
or hand in hand.
The long sweep of them—
toe to thigh to shoulder—
alone together at last.
Now no moans or spasms,
no commotion of limbs,
just themselves, and the sun
lighting the great-armed ferns,
the green throats of the amaryllis,
and the dear abandoned bodies
mingling skin to skin,
someplace between touch and speech.
Here I sit in the bowl of the world,
someone’s finger on the Pole Star
spinning me, gravely,
watching me watching them.
My guy’s asleep in the loft,
back from the city.
He wants to still his mind, he told me.
The sun’s arcing lower now.
It’s 7 a.m. in September.
Saturdays I wash blueberries
for buckwheat pancakes.
Under the stove, a cricket’s
keeping time. I watch the stars at dark
and never get lonely. Last night,
I saw Deneb in the tail of the Swan,
and noticed too, after my guy came home,
how I kept swallowing my saliva,
just like the Tao master says
a woman does
when she’s ready for her man
to come into her.