Poppy girl, Pompeii is love and olive
beds. Beds are Prussian blue, your blood across
my arms. Arms orange-red would sing, chattering.
Chattering ochre, wheeling wheat fields home,
wheeling Rome. Rome, nest of tombs, tomes, and cell
phones. Phones, ubiquitous tag-team terrors,
racing alone, media prone. Prone to
desire. Desire flows from the Tiber, flows
from the river as fire. Fire renders the
wallpaper as frivolous, senseless. Senseless
sound mummifies, as superfluous as
rain and dust, as mud. Mud is what we use
for words. Words are flesh and figs, seedy things,
things that mash to sludge, a gum. Opium.
The skies, as usual, are dead. But I
am living, living. He brings his work, a
hollow hand, stretching, stretching to remit
my speech, my prayer. Here, under this night-talk,
there is no language, no voice but voices
heard everywhere, as these lines of earth, as
a planet of haunted latitudes, of
despair, is burning, burning. Compare this
to the sun. A simple glare becomes a
tabernacle, a table set for two.
She descends, descends the stepping-stair. Her
care has come since infancy, born with thigh
bones out of joint: “In them hath He set.” We’ll
ride blue currents, drink canopies of air.
In Pompeiian dust and rose hip voice, she brings
me absent light and laughs. Her smile is radiant,
precise, a brush of air that breathes of being.
Given her touch, tossed threads of smoke and rust,
I wake up. “How is this possible?” I ask.
She faces forward in her chair, its lime
valour a comedy of antique guff
and horse hair. She says, “All of this is meant, but
the meaning, the meaning is sometimes bent,
so your eyes will fall to accident and
confusion. But this, too, all of this is
meant.” I remembered Sacramento, then,
a brute chaos of motorised men. No cross
of life, but freedom in the course and fen.
Periwinkle pyjamas are fine things,
especially when small men catapult
themselves on flannel fields in wall-papered
symmetry, bunched in hues of bondage,
blues of blood. But my fat brain, starved
for love, requires cognates, and those in turn
require shadings and loose sketches of what
is or what is likely to offend or persuade
or to put down. So put me down for some
one fine word, and coil in the rift about
the object a hint of some more pressing
need, some stalled event that halted us in
progress, a pilgrim’s turn about hands and
beds and muscles clenched, where everywhere
is cracked, and cracking, bends. Still, I
have my days, and good days too, walking my lies.