I know men can dream through the night
without human sleep. They walk in secret
through the same world, the bombed out warehouses
and boarded up rooms of this life,
when the children are gone and the cat
settles down for the night, and the wife calling
them up to bed is the only voice.
They sit at the kitchen table.
The refrigerator hums, the ice cubes
fall into the tray, it doesn't matter.
The dogs of memory are running loose tonight.
For twenty years you sit on that same fence.
It might as well be the first day of the war.
You put on the dark glasses
and fly that plane like lightning
that knows just where to strike.
Look at those flowers in mid air.
Your eyes burn from all the colors.
It's like some version of the world
looking back, the soft green earth,
so much bright water going.
In the mornings the sky is so blue
like an ache deep in the chest, but not the heart.
It's not the heart that remembers.
You were a beautiful child in a book once,
you were born screaming, you had your mother's
eyes but none of her long sorrow,
that breathless waiting for more than the years
swallowed up in some small town, summers down
by the lake, or school, wanting to live for
something, the air outside, or your face in some girl's
yellow hair, the taste of her gold skin
and the last payment on the white Ford Galaxie.
One winter night in your mother's
house you light a fire, you take a long
breath saying yes, my god, my love,
will you marry me? Youíre eighteen
years old, it's the worst snowstorm
of the year, a child tumbles into
your hands, the blood and grease
of the first breath. All night the roof leaks
and the pipes hum and rain falls
on the wet ground, flowers spring up
everywhere, even the weeds make sense.
You are the spitting image of your father
dressed in blue, one of the chosen,
and so you move faithfully like a dog into this world
following something not unlike a hunch,
a distant calling out of the soft place
where your life begins and ends.
From this far up the air is
milk-white and sweet
and underneath the hundred roads
spread out like fingers brushing
the jungle back, impossibly green
and dark and held down always,
roads always going somewhere and somewhere,
and men following something,
eating up the miles, the soup of
loneliness that is the blood of others
laid down next to your own blood.
You know each breath coming and going,
wind through the four chambers of the human heart
that is a canyon, empty like this sky
with the pulling of a lever
when a man does what a man does for his country
and the smoke clears over each burned-out place.
Something faraway inside you is always
opening and closing on that other shore
where a woman and a child are always standing
and all good things move past their flowering
to live and rise again. These are your hands
for tearing the soft bread dipped in milk
in your mother's house, your mother
an old woman saying, eat, eat,
you will be strong.
And so you move into this life
the way a flower opens, that boyish
letting go that is like running towards
something bright and hard and alone
and always soaring. You're miles
above the world. The hot wind
puts little crosses in your heart.