LAND OF MARROW
Down they went
into the waters for the poor
(--Mary Oliver, “Cormorants” Thirst)
1933 9, July Dublin, Ireland,--14. 2007, Victoria B.
FROM THE CYCLE
THE MARROW LAND
In Bourbon Light
Cognac Light, I make a small corner with my books
imagining the Blitz in London
Lantern hewn of wood and translucent oxhorn
a spiritual Jew, you wore a Jewish star from me
& would only have gone to Germany
to make a pilgrimage: tapping into a bad childhood memory,
passoing on the torch
Snow lying in swatches like winding cloth
on stones, seacliffs.
Rucksack words like train’s freight:
stacked, strapped, chainmail, link-knit gray-silver air: the Barrens:
faggots of wood to be burned in the darkest night. In the Train Depot
“Wait” of the City, “Hang On.”
In the city, “Despair”
thick hands folded in lap
but on the curl of bursting into iron, irony with your strong
unlocking from a fluid-lighter, flame.
Burning peach pits to keep oranges alive
the way persimmon & vermilion illuminated letters in a monk’s text:
make me visualize final efforts to keep you alive hooked to
an empty salt shed
for our 15th winter storm.
You were anesthetized at the Royal Jubilee.
Spent gray eyes
one calico, the other
the color of Doll’s eyes.
My love asks me would I want to live a quadriplegic.
“I would not” she informs me
my blood runs cold. All I was told
as a child:
children on stretchers. Pale as moon: All I can do is keen:
I turn my face to the wall.
The Christmas toy-soldier carnelian wood
(a color you rarely wore)
still hangs on the tree by golden thread
The last message is in the e-mail “It would be lovely to meet for a
bowl of Chinese soup”
and the landlady who walked Turkey Head with you every day
weeps uncontrollably over the phone
after a fit of volubility: I saw two souls at the white heat, you two striding:
iron hoops into the Thames slid, spilled down under icy water.
Two lights at the end of the tunnel, “The Knife”
were your grandson’s visit & the plush Doulton lambkin from me:
You’d kissed him & hugged him all that afternoon before surgery
Two radiances, revolving like white ink blurred to fur on a blotter
morphed into a train coming toward you
100 m.p.h. Tres Grand Vitesse
you could only communicate by monosyllables written
on a piece of cardboard with your good hand:
you fell like a ton of bricks,
crumbled like a house on fire,
left us, minute-by-minute, second-by-second over four weeks,
pile of rubble & hymns, roses & blood-iron at dawn.
This Marl World
you have left
in its wood stall
behind your turn-of-century house:
whoever would have thought you’d go down
like a ton of coal
the week before Christmas?
Waters of the poor dark silver rising,
“We are never wise about ourselves.”.
And to think there are people ho go thru life
to whom things never happen