Black Notebook, #5, Lisbon

(from Late Rapturous)

Where sleep kept itself across the room like a long sheet
of glass, and he lay on the white bed sifting through the ash
and raking over the cinders of one burned-out dream or
another, as if he would ever find a shy feather from the angel’s
wing there, no sweet or bitter powder to stop all the circling
in his head, all that grinding over and over, yielding up nothing,
and down in the street some marvelous and bejeweled girls
calling out to one another, and car doors slamming outside
the trendy club with its drift of icy music.  They had gone looking
for Pessoa and found him on coffee mugs and tee shirts, they had
gone singing for Eça and Florbela and found cobblestones and
tiled walls and the bayonet rails of the crimson trolleys.  How
far will any voyage  take you? You can follow Roget and see how
the slap is the first glance toward murder.  You can misread
the physicists and believe that hope and despair are the same
string vibrating. Love what you will quickly. You can never
stay.  Deliverance never looks like itself. Weary and homeward,
then, outbound, the hard-won tickets, and the baggage groaning
with holy books in every language, the great Atlantic cloud cover,
glacial and complete, showed the curvature of the round earth and
they all wept in at least one of the rooms of the heart, for they were
all leaving something, each of them, unguessable and sovereign in
the deepest vault, or profound in those arcane inner whirlwinds
of marvel and fatigue.  How much later then, in his little canted
rooms, home, still with the delicacies and caresses of his own
descent in the November sun. Now the nodding maple crowning
in his high windows, boughs pressing in on him, like the nose of a
lost cat against a door, all hope and resolve that the house and its
joys will open.  In that moment of common fusion he saw himself
reaching through the windowpane and petting its leaves, already
cold and mortal, and the south-facing limbs easing into their final
rusts and crimsons.  As if he could pass through anything, he put
out his hand but then only laid the flat of it against the glass. It was
deeply cool, surprising in the drench of westering light, and he left
his palm there for a while against a billion molecules, once opaque
and blind but now because they had joined in fire he could look
through them clearly as if through one single bright jewel, and he
believed in this way he could see many pieces of the scattered world.



More Poems from Late Raptuous:

The Wild Swans
When You Saw the Lighning