Tuesday, August 26, 1997

THIRST


THIRST

Last full moon of summer, a tide of ants journeys
to the evening’s dishes stacked in the sink.
Colonies­—eons before we paved these headlands—
why do they ring the bathtub like flotsamic ink?
Counter our battle with traces of formalic acid on bread?

They’ve no need for time or history or maps,
breaching bungalo walls to win the font.
Neil brings me some sweet tea in the bath,
removes the sugar to a stove island where at night
a pilot light guides lost craft and keeps ants at bay.

By the soapdish, ants emerge from riddled plaster,
they pool by fallen brethren, staining the tub.
Perhaps seeking the end of religion they eat their dead.
The communion of phagos: no sweetness wasted.
No tyranny of soul or tragedy of self to proclaim.

Unmade dreams slip from the thicket of thighs
where I caress the cloak to see if I’m alive,
having dreamt of women chadored and circumcised,
hemmorhaging on the white tiled floors. No words come.
I cannot help them nor staunch the red tide.

Who else sat in this tub watching the ants’ progress?
What clothing was shed on the honeycomed floor,
what seminal dreams were flushed down the drain
with little to survive them except the salt-
sweetness of laborer’s sweat at the close of day?

Sequestered on the parched bed, he sleeps with
hands wedded to thighs drowning in moonlight.
Moans in the night, dreaming blank futures,
returning to the womb with tonsured ardor,
leaving a river of ants to circumscribe my thirst.

8/26/97
Oakland

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