Its etymology seemed plain but I looked—
its terminal moment came to us
whenever people spoke a middle English,
which I did not research, I’m sorry,
all I could think of was you, all I could do
was close that book and begin
to write you this poem which cannot be
pure. With every word, I am
failing you, amazed you took to heart,
that worn phrase which should
be struck from the line but won’t be,
anything I wrote, anything I will write
tonight. And why I write—
a mystery when all I can think of
is you in the darkness,
your body in black lace or not,
your hand in mine, your hair a long warmth
spooled against my neck,
your mouth more still
than mine. And all that I want
is three rivers by which
to snooze. Or two if we must not be triangulated
by knotted threads of silt.
Or one if location, location,
is not the location it’s made out to be.
Or none. I am happy
also within sight of snow
provided it never comes down to stay,
to sleep in the yard as
soundly as the dead.
Give me an ocean for us
and what could I want
that was more than your sweet face?
Every morning, come dawn,
I won’t go down to the surf
like a penitent county employee
in whose mind the wheel
of pension spins with a slowness that is life,
won’t toe the froth wanting
shells for your collection,
won’t peruse the shed exocoils of starfish.
No, I’ll sleep the sleep
of children or sedated logs
or sedated children
as heavy with dream as logs are
heavy with years in rings. I wish
I were decent. I wish I did
not plot in the play
of your skin on mine
in the morning of my true nature.
But I do. I plot and plan
because there are rivers
to find and mountains to map out
and maybe lush expanses
of veldt, high with grass
combed by wind. An ocean,
a tree house, a hammock strung between elms.
Anything, anything, so long
as you consent
to live with me beneath the moon’s thrown light.