Draft version (2nd rewrite), April 6th, 2017.
- We walked together,
past the amber-lit porches
of two colonial houses.
Those decedent façades,
to the shattered truth:
nothing could shelter
the bitterness when it comes.
And it always comes;
I never thought to leave.
Your face, tilted, spoke in mono-syllabic…
terrors, as if your skin wanted to say,
as it mortifies, tears the spirit of onlookers
feeble to its numbed dissonance—
- A rusty blade stirs boiling hemlock.
- Your sister’s name, Jezebel.
Oh, Jezebel of the wintered day.
A crash of fists, jars with
the paint-chipped knocker;
we wait huddled together as
cast-iron lions jolt, beacon us past
the doorway. We enter.
- No tongues could describe…
that bounty, that burden
of our trembling recognition—
your sister’s fuchsia dress—
the sight of it.
- At smoldering rest,
the Sacramento sun
blisters, abrades decency:
a skylight window damned
in silence (motionless…
drivelled, an aftermath),
rays falling upon floorboards;
our crept hearts
too damaged to speak,
in the house’s dying sanctum,
as locusts feast on nightshades—
we watch Madagascar sunset moths
emerge—crack their cocoons;
a tamberous bleed of purple
beats, breathes, and spills
into your sparrow-speared visage.
That last light, etches the hospice
and our faults, ruined by love
amidst starry conservatories—
and that canopy of junipers,
the one your sister tended to.
Little ghosts left blueberry mouthed,
stained in agony beset.
- We go into the desert.
Its medicine waiting for us.
and wicker men.
- The hot sands seething
your brilliance black.
The droplets of your path,
entomb my rapturous follow…
Only wanderlust to quench
these lips, dry of hope.
And the moony taste of cacti.
- Midday breaks in Death Valley,
as we find the undertaker’s chapel,
and my Nikkormat’s click and shutter
captures your echoed heartache—
you, too broken for all the
- That sombre saunter
leaves you knee-collapsed,
destitute by heaven’s flurry
too weak to intervene.
Then, your tin-ivory compass is
felled by your hands riddled, carrying ash.
- No longer, no longer…
could you bare to clasp
those joy-heavy memories—
but you still held on, heart-to-heart;
took your sister’s urn
to whisper-weep your undoing.
I grasp your palm, have watched for years
as your colour has faded into others.
- Black harbinger, I see your beauty
held magnificent in the wisdom of scars.
Speechless to your true mastery—
charcoaled plumages, refract (inner
light!) that renaissance of divine resonance.
You close the gap, swear to bath
your daughter in Jezebel’s remembrance.
- Alas, I gaze (powerless) as you ignite,
self-immolate, ember-filled, weighted to the ground.
You are the burning midnight,
that which reminds the ethereal of itself.
- We camp near that crater
(grievous of your imprint),
smudge the vicinity of our transgressions.
As I watch California wildflowers
bloom in your wake, kissed by your compassion.
- The road trip home brings us closer,
suspended by that tear (a microcosm of all,
all those Okanagan lakes and mountains
made wondrous, lively streaming
into symmetrical reflections,
bursting at the seams of your womanhood
and need to create). Oh, love-dowsed teacher—
dark phoenix of my heart, burn me.