from Walking Backwards
I was one of the ones who
They told me I was a chosen one.
I crossed into the city. What was I carrying on my shoulders?
The parts of the sentence were separated, I saw, by centuries.
I crossed carrying a sentence on my shoulders.
The city gates read City
They showed me a city with water for cleaning and drinking.
There was bread in the city to quiet hunger.
If you come without intention, they said, the city will open.
They said, here the avenger cannot enter.
I asked, but how have I
come to this city.
They said, better to ask, where are the city’s famed bookstalls.
Many a head has bent over a book and asked many a question.
Who am I to come to this city, I asked, and bowed my head.
Bread on the water, bread on the water, I asked.
The time came to place
themselves in harm’s way
but just how were they
to do this
In another country they
might step out in front of a Caterpillar,
paint blue butterfly wings
on their breasts and march on the capital
but in their country earwigs
spiraled down the cochlea
eating the thought that
grows on the walls of the labyrinth
and dreams wept
I’m so lost
One dream cut to the chase,
a jet-eyed dancer,
right arm stretched, index
extended in the Sistine gesture,
created a dream
arm and a meeting of fingertips
Of the man whose
clothes hang off him standing in line at the checkpoint fingering
back and forward clackety click clackety chattering feline bird through
Otherwise as if
docile the canvas sandals shuffling every few head to toe dusty lids
drawn clickety clickety
Insect legs rub
stone on stone rolls easily no sign something (you too were attracted)
Never to speak
God’s 99 most beautiful names in rosarium spheres (you too heard
them colonize the)
Of amber agate
amethyst garnet jasper jade olive baked clay date pit pistachio
on a merry-go- (you too were unnerved)
Of the mouth shut
in a sun-baked (you in the witness corner)
Of water and cognates—see
hear read write ask
The man steps
forward watchful opaque (you ho ld out your hand for the beads slide
off into your
from Calendars of Fire
from A Darker, Sweeter String