Memory is Water

Memory is water, you know, running back, if I
plunge my paddle into it, the canoe doesn’t move,
I hack and hack away at it, but the waterfall’s behind us
and it’s closing in fast

In behind your eyes there’s a landslide of coal
where one strong goldenrod stalk survives. There’s a
mountain stream with streetcars drowned
under the shattered glass, and a riverrun of salmon
spawning on the swollen lawn

A handclap, a stone, quails rustle in the jimmygrass
There’s a sunrise shot and a swift dog sent
spinning to retrieve it, winged
The rattle of cobblestones stirring like a thousand teeth can be heard
when I lean intimate your ear
when I lean intimate your ear

You came back to me shattered, like a ragged leather scroll
from another stratum of another era, something less than whole
Intolerable pain cracks your face like lightning over a clear night sky
Lightning streaks, mascara streaks, black
lightning on the pallor of your face

Memory is water, you know, running back, if I
plunge my paddle into it, the canoe doesn’t move,
I hack and hack away at it, but the waterfall’s behind us
and it’s closing in fast

No thing about your landmarks is what it seems, your face is replaced by a furnace
The furrow of your brow is overflowing, the bridge long swept away
And the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
And the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on

I want to know why your hands collapse, like friable lichen, like cigarette ash
Being with you now is just like a miracle
I  haven’t seen you since I sent my tongue to be recycled

Memory is water (you know) running back
if I  plunge my paddle into it, the canoe doesn’t move
I hack and hack away at it, but the waterfall’s behind us
and it’s closing in fast, it is closing in

I hold your face like the blood-black dot sun burns into eyelids. If I 
turn away, I turn away, only to see it again:
knowing, disliking, desiring, adoring, afraid—afraid

I wait for you gradually like a waiting cat
whenever I see you it’s
From the back
From the back

Memory is water…