Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November (soft ghost)

"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year... The redoubtable God! I notice where Death has been introduced, he frequently calls, making it desirable to forestall his advances... Sharper than dying is the death for the dying's sake."

-- Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Elizabeth Holland, 1864  


Fingers go first
on cold mornings
like these--
the year almost over,
marked only by
clouds of my breath
and the steam from a first
cup of coffee,
billowing and then invisible
right in front of me.

Standing on my wooden deck,
surveying the backyard for signs of life,
I hold the cup close to my face
to feel its warmth
and to breathe in the fecund humidity
of some verdant, impenetrable green--
the genesis in Colombian forests or
hills of Bolivian backcountry
the sound of macaws
     and marmosets
          and masked squirrel monkeys

replaced only by the lonesome trill of a blue jay
foraging in front of a hiccupping grey-squirrel
leaping amid detritus of the fall,
brushy tail twitching at the
grey clouds and grey sky--
staring at me

across a blankness like a frozen fjord,
an emptiness floating beneath ice
I have to blink away,
but I know that when I do
it will be gone,
this breath of mine,
dissipating and
in the air in front of me.

It happens that fast.

Silent as the trees,
their bark a sullen hue,
their limbs and trunks showing through
the emptiness of what once was there.
The nearest one
in my leafy brain
a woman, naked, her ochre dress
fallen to the floor by her feet in the bedroom,
silkened soft arms and breasts and legs opened to me
swaying to the sibilance of her windvoice,
dry leaves whispering in the quiet--
my name.
Her whisper, a sound so soft,
until it is
and once again as before,
as always,
only the morning's wind
in my ear.

And so--

A mug of hot coffee by my face
and at my lips
(her smile, her mouth, her hands--soft ghost--her legs, her laugh, her hair, her fingers)
my fingers opening and closing
wrapped around this fire,
the sting of blood returning while

breathsteam entwines like a silver thread,
falling slack, bending, looping around itself
like some slumbering "8"
(the sign of infinity tattooed in the air)
and then tightening
from some other end to
pull at me.

And I have to let it go.

Early morning
near the end of a year
like any year,
sitting alone
in the cold,
drinking coffee and breathing,


          just like that,

and watching it go.