Feager flames trumpet & the blue-‐black flowering swells trailing the wind, a twisting inferno blossoming, sky / what a roar / eating & burning. Gold waterfall sucked to the brown sky, trees foaming. The Grondalskis, the school, the Redwood Library, Piedmont Hotel, Celine’s house, Jack London’s, San Francisco 1906, Jack Cassidy: it’s not just us, the whole world’s in flames!
I was at the black window, I was in a dream?, & this event offered itself: the sweetness of relinquishing my tiny-‐fingered grasp of grace. I finally saw the moon outside in its globular divinity & music in the speckled globes of my eyes. Already then, I could envision the gallimaufry of your face—not as it is now, but when it was slick & composed like polished marble / thoughts arriving & flitting away, light reflections over stone curves. & I thought, This is that time, when a thinking man like me is forced to deflower his vestal fantasy of reality. The time when the genteelman finds himself shaken & dust-‐choked. Ghosts of objects bring us to paregoric places, the very opiate of living itself. We are all of us irretrievably caught in uncanny valley, one perpetual note shy of natural. The trick is to not wait for it. To take your impatient self out of the polynomial.
Devotion makes us all alike. Once I watched a man in chains breathe blood at the bolefaces of cops & the whole time he was invoking their souls. That was San Francisco in the sixties / deaf as the sea. I, too, have always suspected I’ve been in the presence of God throughout my entire existence… but since it has only happened once, how can I be sure? I’ve been known to feel numinous force in eccentric places. Like whenever I’m lying next to your strict body. Absent in each other & captive there, we are bright & contained, like the inky star of the cistus, like the twins of mythology, the two elements of the cross, the yin & yang, St. George & the Dragon, & you, two figures vined, impoverished without one another, obediently bearing the ruins of your tradition. Let’s tread lightly as we disentangle—uncoupling breaths that contain just the right amount of atmospheric gases as we lurch forward, not full & vital creatures—our evolution is too confluent—but robust in our inchoateness from having once been fused.
There at the first wire of light, & I wrangle your jelly tendrils in. What unexpected intoxication in handling your eggy slop. The thrum of your blood hums. Gardyloo!—I hurl a swarm of slick mayflies. & by the whiteness, you are more than a few nickels shy of waking. But so finally barreling towards self!, gurgling adespota straight from the spheres, luminousness, every part glimmering. I don’t wish to interfere. I am not Leonard Cirino, silver-‐tongued axe-‐toter. I know poetry doesn’t buy you penance. I know a gutty face is not the stuff of art. But what pins down the earth. We can either obey or grieve. Outside, where the stiff black grasses fringe the funereal leg of our private path. Where unmapped constellations. Skeletal mists drift off the cold road. All of the rich
dead among the rocks. Out there, quite apart from our little fates, is all of the impenetrable swale we’ve been foot-‐sucking through. So this is how the extraordinary arrives: illumined in a swollen face / tumid & cracking maroon a bay from forehead to lip. What a relief it will be to be freed from your saucy mood stew. Who knows what I’ll find in my own soup—besides skulls & dust bunnies.
We are all of us the spiritual equivalents of butter sculptures, & I point the greasy finger at myself. As the fire rages whorl to the sun, as the pale ashes flitter the sky, as the birds are wheezing to their deaths, I am hugging the bight in your orange Honda. In the distance, the toothy palisades that will decorate my flight: Bell Point, sun sequins, sea-‐ born fog quilts pink & pale over the boulder heads. I think I see my nature in the sky. But the ice lava of the sea is roiling. The ice lava of the sea is monotony. I’m in fear. I think it might be telling me.
Nic Leigh has published in DIAGRAM, UNSAID, The Collagist, and Atticus Review.