At last I am the number of the earth.
I can sleep its rotations
Without grumbling about past or future.
I feel sixty cubits tall, like my own temple.
Like the distance between earth and moon.
I feel like an abundance of time,
Divide me and I grow in number,
Sixty times more desirous of love,
Sixty times less willing to judge,
Sixty times closer to no end
And sixty times more grateful.
Apollo’s head in a Zurich antiquarians,
A dead godhead with a paper price tag,
Much like the other mediocrities of Europe
On sale—composers, fiddlers and writers
Like that cracked bust of Goethe,
All embarrassments of conscience.
But who killed Apollo? Who’d want
To kill a god of beauty, order and knowledge,
And for what reason, what gain,
Decapitate the sun of justice,
Sever the hands of science and medicine
And inter them in regression,
Murder the protector of the innocent
And exploit the violence of profit,
Hiding in plain sight like lies in language.
We’ll never know who did the killing,
Buried in earth’s arcane history
Apollo’s torso and assassin lay side by side.
Branches encased in ice
frozen at the edge of light
the sound of ice igniting
is like fire shattering
contracting and expanding
the crack in the earth
methane through permafrost
at the glazing a transformation
things pass into transparency
in a sleep-like state all children
of light and light of blight
on a planet of fire and ice
and crystals of mortal salt
the stillness before the setting
the wind at first frost
freezes the skin of water
the ringing of light
and conception of rime
freezing point of mind
and all the unkindness
and all that is malign
appears like a silver thaw
of clouds crushing to a stop
We spoke wine-press “purple words”
Blending with wine-makers’ voices
Splashing purple across work floors.
“Blue words” kept the world aloft,
Like branch, bird, cloud and water…
Like time, spirit, celestial and divine…
“Green words” grew among us like grapes
And sang the sun’s green gratitude
For smoke and rain, twilight and dreams.
The “black words” we saw in color
Were indigo buntings in a magic forest
Or like fish that swallow moonlight.
Only at the entrance to the underworld
Are the unforgiving fluent in ash,
Though the words are dowsed in past light.
Lifts construction machines like stones
And casts them into a heap.
Love stops armies with sweet
Slow bullets of sleep.
It terrorizes terrorists with weapons
Of impossible propaganda.
It blasts through diamond
To reach the cave of the poem.
Keep me awake one minute beyond those I love
That I may guide them safely through dark doors
Keep me awake one minute beyond first light
Like an after-image of light eternal
Don’t shut my eyes unless sleepless I depart
Sleepless arrive where sleepless I embarked
Don’t close my hands before I touch the last wave
Don’t bind my feet until the dance is slowing
Don’t cover my mind before it pictures its dream
Don’t bury me before I write my grave
Or stop my blood until it flies in birds
Don’t let the wind blow into my mouth
Before my spirit steps into its spaces
Such a thin reed for so round a whistle–
I stop inside myself inside the fog.
I look around, owl-like.
Past and present meet.
The future calls from the street.
In all places I think
it is like this at times,
a wavering moment
in which something endures.