Again I try to explain how all talk is slippery. See, I might want to convey one thing, frustration, say – but all that gets conveyed is some other thing, rage – my hand coming fast, erratic, menacing. Who can say how a thing in words turns, flowers like that? It happens. Now say I want to say to you happiness. No motive. Nothing behind it. Just the awareness of a valve turned suddenly open and hallelujah! – happiness. It’s in the lungs, the bones. But somehow all you hear is I don’t need you. We’re in this room, and you’re not hearing how I’m still trying to say this thing. I’ll say it again. Here. Happiness.
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she’s a conjugated verb.
She’s been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We’re all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,
we’ve all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it means to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together, indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
And what is even more amazing
is that while here together, you and I
are at this very moment in Iraq and Khorasan.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
She had an understanding with the years;
For always in her eyes there was a light
As though she knew a secret none might guess.
So calmly did she bear the weight of pain,
With such serenity accept the joy,
It seemed she had a mother-love for Life,
And all the days were children at her breast.