Thursday, September 19, 1985

SE ME CAYO


SE ME CAYO

On the Avenida de Reforma
in Teotihuacan's quaking bed,
cracked pavement—terremoto.
An abundance of funereal flowers
once again bloom in hanging gardens
in Xioxicalco, where tall hotels swayed 
like tall reeds and snapped off at the base
to fall in the concrete garden of chaos.

date? 1985, or 1986?

Tuesday, September 17, 1985

FALLING TO SEA LEVEL


FALLING TO SEA LEVEL

              Yo no lo conocÌa, pero aveces
              me entero de uno que otro detalle.
              Monica Mansour
                               —para John Oliver Simon

Late in the season, small avalanches begin
where our boots break a trail.
I place my feet carefully in each milk-blue hollow
and learn the distance of your stride.
We crawl up the crevice toward the sky.
Rocks tumble into the deep valley
and the space between worlds widens.
We rush to fill it with our hands, lichen & stone.

In the thin blue air above timberline
a cornice of snow gives under our weight.
We imagine it to sweep us up like swimmers
at the crest of a wave.  Wind, uncoded
from fingerprints fluxes the surface
of the lake.  The patterns carried
within us makes us recount the myths.
What passes for human
fallen off from ritual
urges us to jump.

We see beyond each mountain, a cloud;
beyond each cloud, another mountain.
By climbing on all fours, we learn to trust our hands.
Slowly, our hands lead us back to our hearts.
Our hands become small commas to separate sky from world
& the mountain watches them paying out shapes to the wind.
Clouds on the horizon have escaped us this time.

The dark thing that chased us from sleep
today, is a pale witness in snow.
Tracks of a mountain lion take on a new shape
separated from night.
We trace the origin of tracks
to a hollow beneath the last vertical face
of the mountain.
We drink from the same water
and leave rock cairns to mark a trail
no one else will follow.
Perhaps, in the future other climbers
will puzzle over this.

Hold in your hand this poem without words;
a white reminder of what we've lost.
Fur trappings slide from bare shoulders.
Glaciers scrub stones smooth again.
At sea level, the cave fire retreats
to its proper place in time.
I say, what civilized us
was the donning of clothes.
You say, No, language separated us.
And your tongue fills my mouth.

The temptation would be to stay in these mountains
and dress language in lichen & stone for vows,
but at sea level, the gods of dailiness
sweep through us and our grasp upon sky,
stones & skin loosens.  One misstep;
a false handhold could throw us back into air.
The next snowfall would bury our tracks.
When spring comes again,
they will sink back into the earth
without a trace.
The years are turning colder, I said.
There are other witnesses, you said,
The mountain lion and us.

Blue Canyon, Sonora Pass
Rosh Hoshana
Fall 9/17/1985


1986-88 Falling to Sea Level
1988 Women's Voices
1987 Creative Discourse

           Marin Poetry Center
           Poet News/ Sacramento Literary Review




CAYENDO AL NIVEL DEL MAR/FALLING TO SEA LEVEL
      Yo no lo conocía; pero a veces
      me entero de uno que otro detalle.
                        —Monica Mansour

Tarde por la estación, las avalanchas empiezan  
donde nuestras botas hacen un sendero  
en el empinado campo de nieve.  
Pongo los pies con cuidado en cada hueco  
color de leche azulado y aprendo la distancia de tu paso.  
Reptamos por la grieta hacia el cielo.  
Las rocas se derrumban en la valle profunda  
y se ensancha el espacio entre los mundos.  
Precipitamos para llenarlo con 
Las manos, los liquenas v la piedra.

En el aire azul y fino de las montañas  
luna cornisa de nieve se desploma bajo nuestro peso.  
Imaginamos que nos arrasta como nadadores  
en la cresta de una ola. El viento, descifrado  
de las huellas digitales funde el superficie  
del lago. La forma llevada  
adentro nos hace recontar los mitos.  
Lo que pasa para lo humano  
caído rel rito, nos urge saltar.  
Vemos más alla de cada montañ a, una nube;  
más allá de cada nube, otra montaña.  
Subiendo a gatas, aprendemos a confiar en las manos.  
Despacio, nuestras manos nos llevan a los corazones.  
Las manos nos hace pequeñas comas para separar cielo y mundo  
y la montaña las mira arriando formas al viento.  
Las nubes en el horizonte nos escaparon esta vez.

La cosa oscura que nos cazó del sueño  
hoy es un testigo pálido en la nieve.  
Las huellos de una pantera toman una nueva forma  
separadas de la noche.  
Trazamos el origen de huellas  
hacia un hueco abajo de la última cara vertical de la montaña.  
Bebemos de la rnisma agua  
dejamos montones de piedras para marcar un sendero  
que nadie va seguir.  
Quizás en el futuro  
otros alpinistas se preguntarán sobre esto.

Toma en la mano este poema sin palabras;  
un recuerdo blanco de lo que hemos perdido.  
Atavios de pelos nos deslizan de los hombros.  
Los glaciares suavizan las piedras otra vez.  
Al nivel del mar, la hoguera de la caverna retrocede  
         hacia su lugar apropriado en el tiempo.  
Digo, lo que nos civilizó fue la ropa.  
Dices que no, el lenguaje nos separó  
y tu lengua me llena la boca.  
La tentación sería quedarnos en las montanãs  
y vestir el lenguaje en líquenas y piedras para votos,  
pero al nivel del mar, los dioses cotidianos  
nos arrastran y nuestro asimiento en el cielo,  
las piedras, la piel relaja. Un tropezón,  
un asidero falso podria tirarnos  
en el aire. La próxima caida de nieve  
enterraría nuestras huellas.  
Cuando la primavera viene otra vez,  
hundirán en la tierra sin rastro.  
Los años se enfrían, dije.  
Hay otros testigos, dijiste,  
la pantera y nosotros.  

9/1986

1986, 87, 88 Falling to Sea Level

Tuesday, September 10, 1985

Long Distance Relationship

     —for John Oliver Simon

What can I say? When my breast brush my nightgown, a feeling of pain and pleasure, a pulse of electricity runs through me and I am careful about how I move. Your touch lingers long after you've gone, like wild hands rubbing my body and I have to sleep it off.

How soon we traveled that journey from the hot pools, where, like fish we plunged, like a submarine you slipped through my legs. You said a ritual courtship, and I feel sad for all the ones who have left, always with regret with an air of finality. Leaving me empty, and it is hard to think of starting over.

At dinner, you write a poem to me, of fear, and then you hold my hand. I tell you a dirty joke, you say the word cunt. Diners next to us pause, a still moment, as the word, like a slow trajectory cuts through the momentary silence that sometimes occurs within hubbub of crowds. The laws of public chatter.  And surcease. A dite. My neck reddens. I think I am too jaded to feel the awkwardness of beginnings. But I'm wrong.

We eat raspberries and eclairs and I think of nipples. After you kiss my breasts, you say the word, raspberries. We stay in bed for days and tell each other stories. I tell you how the snake on the hill shook his rattle and how I leapt backwards into space falling, it seemed as if forever through the slowness of air. Like now. I am leaping. No safety net.

Looking up into that exact blueness of sky, I say, I begin to understand the how the theory of time and space continuum began. You say the word, Anadrio, an invented name for a new color for joy. You tell me of a Mexican poet, Otto-Raúl González, who invented ten new colors and you said Anadrio is the color of joy and of good luck.

We walk in the afternoon down the road, no longer the main road. The dotted line no longer divides the streams of cars flowing in opposite directions on River Road. We pick fruit, pears, blackberries and quince.

You say the word for quince in Spanish before we make a fat meal of garden corn and flank steak with shallots. Zinfandel and brie, the Sonoma palate. A cornucopia harvest. We are harvesting glances in each others eyes.

Others begin to notice. I think no, this is not happening again. It's an early fall this year. When I fall in love, it is always in late summer. I count my years by the men I have loved, not counting, but resignedly accepting another one each year. Harvest an endless procession marching through my body, this is how I am counting the years.

The years begin to scare me. You tell me how the thought of getting me with child excites you. We make more wild love. And then you tell me you don't want more children and have plans for a vasectomy. I think of all the men who at first want to impregnate me, but as reality takes its tolls, soon there will be letters of regret. It is another form of domination.

Like two drugged animals we cling to this opiate, knowing it will lift, clinging to it, we know there is more than a few lost days to it.  It is growing exponentially. You call, long-distance, and say you feel a little lost, a little sad, and want to crawl back into my arms. But you made an appointment saying, they want my balls too. I murmur cojones and I feel yet another door slam shut after this one just opened.

You talk of long distance relationships, saying you want your cake too. And all I can hear is the scissor-snipping of bluejay voices cutting through the empty air as if the scalpel had already begun its job in a closed room. What is the color of distance? And futures?

Tuesday, 10 September, 1985
added 2/18, after JOS's death.
minor revisions