Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One Life Before Another

When I was young I ate my heart like the sky
eats its clouds. Now it is my love’s heart I devour.

Ice pearls the windows, the sun melts my heart.
I give it away so easily. Why am I always waiting?

If you worry, I tell myself, keep it to yourself.
Your love worries for both of you, such is the life

you share. A half century changes nothing, only
whom we die with; pity the poor who interceded . . .

When I was young I devoured Dostoyevsky. Now,
pushing beyond my four score and ten, Tolstoy.

From the gambler to the gamboler . . . well,
God always devours the life you lead before dying.

I dream of imagos set before the door that opens.
Krishna, say, or the Woman Looking Up at Sky.

It’s Buddha and Dionysus, Crime and Punishment,
War and Peace, city and country, Dmitri, Levin . . .

You are and always were such a bookish boy
who enjoyed one woman at a time, now all at once.

If dreams were digital and flooded all cyberspace
life would lurk around the corner, ready to be seen.

As it is, I sleep in the dark, wake in the daylight.
I never seem to outgrow my addiction to the human.

Others enjoy brothels in their youth as a respite
to the florescent lights illuminating nothing but wall.

Ah, says the conscience, now you’re recalling Kafka,
what a gentle soul to prophesy a century’s horror . . .

He found in a whore’s company the love that passes
understanding, and at his desk the true apocalypse.

Who is that woman looking up at the sky? Distance
from death is in her eyes. She tells the truth or nothing.

The country waddles off to church. All have such faith.
The one-legged priest who learned in the African bush

what books never knew now knows he can no longer lie,
so lean he slips between eternities . . . old Giacometti

lying in bed with his chosen one. He has worked the stone
until it starts to disappear. She does the same to his body.

I am no sculptor, poet, painter, no Pollock or Picasso,
and no lover. I live only at my desk? What will I do now

that the door is locked, the curtain burning, my life
packed in the bed of a pickup truck bound for south

of here, a creature with no sentient life, the woman’s
betrayer, he for whom she scans the sky, found too late.

She has gone back to the original materials. She has
no sky now, no beautiful face upturned, nowhere to rest.

I reach Paris as easily as I put one word after another.
I love to sit in the cafes and dream I live now in Paradise.

I have no money, I have no materiel. I have no beloved.
I need no mirror to know I busily live, but this is no life

for a boy who worked in the fields, the stifling buildings
where what was bought was prepared, ready to be sold.

My skin betrays the color brown. White hair, dark eyes.
The sun was a wheel I rode from one life into this other.

(5 April 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

1 comment:

  1. Floyce, you are putting it all together. Amazing work along the rows of your lines. I have been thinking about mirrors also, reading about that lid-flipping moment when a scholar first decoded da Vinci's notebooks. It occurs to me that when I look out my window what I see set against the gray wall of a spring rain, the almost-budded cottonwoods on the bank of the ditch, is all written backwards in cursive Italian which is why life has always seemed so bewildering. Found an exam I wrote back in 1968, 20th Century American, where I wrote that for Eliot the struggle with God was the meaning of life and without it life becomes an indecipherable code. Love and death also have their codes. I dreamt I lost my glasses last night. Still, I had such tenderness toward my youngest son. He forgave me for being so tired when I came home from work. The night before I dreamt Cynthia was lost. This is getting to be a habit.