A Way Back to Life



From Russians I learned never to shake hands

across a threshold, but a half-hour after

rising, I return to set my cool hand into the bed

where a river of dreamheat lingers, the still-warm

flank of our horse’s dark gallop.


To make sure it was me they got, my parents

put up all night with a mockingbird

perched aloud in one of three liquid birches

a handspan from their open window. Do you

think I’d make that up? Ask me,


and I might tell you the joke that rolls

like a yellow marble from all that I have made.

A cloak of lightning around my shoulders,

I can slip like a drumbeat into the actual world.

If only making love did not


also make loss. If only a curtain call

and the dead lifted their bodies,

lithe. From the surprise taxi emerged a child

beautiful in her buttoned coat, but on the stones

even her small feet sang


the terrible clatter. You have suggested we

take the floating trip, meaning, perhaps, without

formal destination. Will you bury your head

in the softness of my belly where old

yearnings still sleep? Continent


to continent, homeless and without

fixed beliefs, perhaps a large part laughter,

there is nowhere loss will refuse

to take us. I have decided to trust

the late night horse and its riders.