Bone- spur, stirrup of veinswhite colt
a tree, sapling bone again, worn to a splinter,
a steeple, the birch aground
in its ravine of leaves. Abide with me, arrive
at its skinned branches, its arms pulled
from the sapling, your wrist taut,
each ganglion a gash in the trees rent
trunk, a childs hackwork, love plus love,
my palms in your fist, that
trio a trident splitting the birch, its bark
papyrus, its scars calligraphy,
a ghost story written on
winding sheets, the trunk bowing, dead is
my father, the birch reading the news
of the day aloud as if we hadnt
heard it, the root moss lit gas,
like the veins on your ink-stained hand
the birch all elbows, taking us in.
AUBADE AGAINST GRIEF
Chaste sun who would not light your face
pale as the fates
when we turned aside; recluse
returned and by returning banished
all thought but: Love, late
sleeper in the early hours, flesh of my bone,
my faultstardiness, obtuse
remit of my own
heart, unruly haste
to keep my mouth on yours, to wipe the slate
clean, to atone
what could I want but to wait
for that light to touch your face,
chaste as Eros in the first wished-
on rush of wings?
. . . a matter of changing a slide in a magic lantern.
I wish we were Indians and ate foie gras
and drove a gas- guzzler
and never wore seat belts
Id have a baby, yours, cette fois,
and Id smoke Parliaments
and wed drink our way through the winter
in spring the baby would laugh at the moon
who is her father and her mother who is his pool
and wed walk backwards and forwards
in lizard- skin cowboy boots
and read Gilgamesh and Tintin aloud
Id wear only leather or feathers
plucked from endangered birds and silk
from exploited silkworms
wed read The Economist
it would be before and after the internet
Id send you letters by carrier pigeons
who would only fly from one window
to another in our drafty, gigantic house
with twenty- three uninsulated windows
and the dog would be always be
off his leash and always
find his way home as we will one day
and wed feed small children
peanut butter and coffee in their milk
and Id keep my hand glued under your belt
even while driving and cooking
and no one would have our number
except I would have yours where Ive kept it
carved on the sole of my stiletto
which I would always wear when we walked
in the frozen and dusty wood
and we would keep warm by bickering
and falling into bed perpetually and
entirely unsafely as all the best things are
your skin and my breath on it.
Excerpted from The Ada Poems by Cynthia Zarin. Copyright © 2010 by Cynthia Zarin. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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