Poetry at Sangam




A man sits at the window watching two jays drift from wire to wire while a dead woman’s song filters from an upstairs apartment. I’m crazy, crazy for feeling so blue…
            There will be the sound of hammers in just a moment.
            He will sleep and wake and sleep and wake.




Contradictions shape a given day: I want to remember what it was like to be tired of beauty, to taste the slow going of vivid facts, the clumsiness of mouthing a location in an unfamiliar language. Lips meeting and parting the way

a twinge in the leg breaks up forgettable dreams into sheets of ice floating off towards the horizon. Where it can, a sense of not-quite regret filters through events like sunlight or like change. Undeniably, limitations form every sound of every syllable. This, we are given to say, is the body.

In a small back alley studio, in the middle of the last century, a painter pulls back the blanket covering the half-finished scene of a table filled with daylilies and water glasses. A brush glides forward, catching for a moment on the canvas weave, then is flicked back to the pallet. The hand grows tired, eventually.




Consider the broad light of knowing something, anything even so obscure as the exact pollen count produced in seven acres of alfalfa in a field in southern Maine or the weight of a coin produced in the Sung dynasty. Intent fashions a space out of all our uncertainty; it takes dominion everywhere. It makes a sound: a sharp intake of breath, a tiny door opening.




Like small errant fish disappearing in kelp beds, everything scatters. What becomes the flesh? Whatever it is, I want it all, and now. Then, still, enough.




And the man at the window had once wanted to become his beliefs, whatever they were, to walk everywhere within them, their comfort, to have them shoot outward in all directions. But he faltered and forgot their possibilities, if he ever knew them, or there was static on the line (the jays, again) and he had misheard. Some wishes tell themselves and the sun still shines all day. His eyes close.