This is a poem I started in the Fall of 1986. I have worked on it off and on ever since.
“There’s a light, a certain kind of light…” The Bee Gees
“Every sight that I see is Maria.” West Side Story
I walk in spirals through Chicago
through streets elegant as a rattler’s back.
Stepping over rainbows in oily gutters, I see my reflection
standing with well dressed mannequins
in department store windows
as if we are family, waiting for the world to end.
But I am older than Chicago, older than the prairies.
Wild dogs howl up and down my spine!
In my chest are springs seeping water into cattle tanks
where milk cows gather at dusk to drink the colors of heaven.
In October, 1986, I stand by an open window in Fairfield, Iowa
contemplating the Fall.
Leaves like Puerto Rican brides
red and gold are falling and flying
and I am flying with them now as a bridegroom
over cities swollen with the blood of people
cut off from the sea.
I fly over solitary farm boys courting domesticated animals
forbidden by the Bible,
see my body below me mounting mule deer and antelope
along the Chama River in New Mexico.
I put on antlers and wade with cows into water
the colors of heaven!
I want to spread my arms wide as prairies!
I want to kiss everything alive!
Lie down in fields plowed black as Ethiopian women
and pull the sky down on top of us!
Because I am awake in the love that makes leaves bud
in the highest branches of an ash tree!
Because every cell of my body is dancing in African circles,
one hundred thousand ash leaves taken up together in wind!
This love I offer to the Divine Mother.
You with your prayer voice, your prayer smoke rising.
You with your prayer teeth, your prayer skull throbbing with rivers.
Your face is a cliff of fiddle fern with no trail to the top.
There are no roads higher than your hipbones.
So come down to me because I can’t climb high enough
to reach you.
I have built altars to myself in high places
and I have fallen.
I have climbed on ladders made of breath and I have fallen.
But your breath is a wave swelling in the Gulf, beyond the seventh sand bar.
Your breath folds into itself and breaks in sudden laughter
on Matagorda beach!
If you see me on street corners, standing in a rain of galvanized nails
shouting, “I am Jesus!”
If I limp toward you with bullet holes in the palms of my hands, carrying an atom bomb,
lift me up into your arms and heal me.
Let your breath come from the four corners of the sky.
Come like dawn through my blue windows and lay
your salmon colored hands upon me!
Lift me up and enter me!
Make my belly swell with a new earth,
a new sky with a new moon in it.
When I walk in spirals through Chicago there is a lamb’s heart
beating in my chest.
Light enters through every wound.
I welcome strangers standing on corners like ash trees giving back
breath for breath.
I welcome meadowlarks with flowers in their beaks
and gray winged gulls come from the Great Lakes
who follow rivers inland to live with drunk men under bridges.
I welcome the Mother who has no place to stay where she has not always
Once I carried heavy burdens,
crazy women with hair the color of drained oil.
I walked in circles, gathering in my eyes the dust of cities
that falls from wings of sparrows.
I carried the skull of the moon between my shoulder blades
where wings used to be.
Then one night the moon rose off of me.
Stars fell and there were rivers in my hands!
There was water falling over me, seeping through hillsides into springs.
There are oceans inside me now and my heart is full of waves!
Late November now in Fairfield, Iowa.
A certain kind of light is falling from the wings of meadowlarks.
The sky is full of white flakes of fire!
Standing in a grove of oak trees naked after the Fall,
we are grown so close together we touch each other like children,
I praise the ten thousand leaves of an oak tree!
The open face of the sky I praise!
God’s breasts round and full, I praise.
I praise her belly covered with moss roses,
praise her long arms embracing seven billion men and women.
Everything that breathes and does not breathe, I embrace.
I kiss her red mouth!
I drink her voice seeping through me like water into cattle tanks.
I kiss her red mouth.