Saturday, January 1, 2011


I will ride the boat as far upriver as it goes.
You come with me, my small beloved
with a heart the size of the known world.
I dally with hyperbole, I know, the winds
blow me nowhere, but here you are and go,
or do I lead the way? What would there be
without either of us holding the other . . .
Where would I be, where would you be, where
are the songbirds this time of year up here . . .
You wanted to hear the story of my friend
in a roadside bar and back on the road
smashed his life against Scylla and Carybdis.
I stanch my tears, for I have wandered down
into the shades to walk among my Achilles,
too many for any Patroclus or Odysseus
to fathom. I thought upon waking of Troy
and how the men spilled with weapons raised
out of the horse’s belly and took what Hector
could not defend, even though his conqueror’s
heel opened even wider for the arrow that hit
Achilles where nothing, no one, no world
of time or space could prevent his mother’s hand
holding his heel washing her babe above flowing
water could have prevented the fates’ visit,
the furies’ chorus, the plummet below
where we walk, or rather ride the boat now,
upstream and on to our house, the one as small
as you, casa sin tragedia, where the great ones
dwell inside and our only devotion is to work alone
and yet with one another to gladden our lives
until we become the one life, body, presence
whose very appearance opposes absence,
even nullity, whose lure is so strong skies fall
when wind rises and the eight worlds send
from each direction a tiny breeze to fill
the eighty-four thousand holes of the body.
And so I have blundered upon the love of a life
time’s search, coming upon you unaware
that day I had found you and you saying now
you knew immediately, once I opened my pen
and wrote out what I call poetry, the penchant
of fools and salvation of doomsayers, the arch
enemy of nullity itself. And how long had passed
before we reached that place upriver you helped
me down to the soft clay and led me to your love’s
great heart, so much larger than all my hearts,
all my loves, whose courage was such as to include
my infidelities, but wish me the lifetime I held
in both hands, yours, mine, and not many years
where the dark sand runs and never stops for me
or you, and I have pondered what will become
of you when I am gone, and know you will go on,
Leila Shulamit, Maria Teresa, Rita / Livka’s
daughter, and I buried in a grave in Potter’s Field
unmarked but unsullied by the world you carry
beyond us both, I who loved you so you loved us
without tears, without regrets, without Rita / Livka
who wanted only that we each send her a sign
we understood why she goes beyond us. O where
is she now? What harbor, where, does she wait?

(1 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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