This Brighter Prison - Excerpt
In the photographs, a small boy clutches a tattered blanket
and nurses like a night-eyed calf
at his own thumb.
These images are now impossible.
Though it is cold,
the photographs still
blister my fingers.
The seasons have blurred with the grace
of blood swirling down the drain
of a porcelain sink.
Now the boy is rawboned,
eye-sockets deep as boar-pits.
He leans over the taps and fishes
fragments of teeth from his mouth,
smiling at them like curious gems.
Somewhere in this city,
there are eye-teeth on the sidewalk.
A design like scarlet lace deepens in the snow.
Footprints grate over a glitter of broken glass.
There is a print of a body in darkness.
I have stumbled over the world's edges, licked the candy windows
and spent endless nights with the wise.
I have watched men and women
touch each other
with the tentative
gestures of stray dogs.
I have seen my happy friends
tear the nails from their fingers
and hurl plates out of windows.
I know something about violent bad habits.
But my brother
who wears the skin of my body
remains a mystery.
He is splattered by mud.
He is still pelted by orange peels,
tea towels, and screwdrivers,
the ammunition of our childhood.
He is fifteen.
He is a gate of anger waiting for the storm
that will rip him from his hinges
and heave him to the wind.
In the field above Fish Creek
there are toe prints in the snow,
evidence of the gallant barefoot sprint
When he ran, the horses spooked
like giant gray ghosts and galloped away.
He tore himself through the barbed wire
and slid down the cliffs ides,
knowing policemen eat too many donuts
and do not fire to wound.
He dropped his own gun gently, like a black frog.
He ran through the snow,
cut his feet on ice, pine cones, rocks,
sprinting, anxious muscles in love with their bones,
his body oblivious at last, eating new air
he charged into the trees,
bolted over the bridge the horses fear
suddenly he feared nothing
fears nothing, runs,
his mind pierced
with hot wordless sorrow
he sprints out against himself,
escaping into the world,
this brighter prison
the boy, fifteen,
famous for knife scars and theft,
in his own mind,
for racing death
barefoot through the snow.
Isadora and the Basque PhotographerIsadora and the Basque Photographer
Quickly, Inaki, take her picture
catch the light and her hand
spread on the whitewashed wall, hold the lizard there,
above her skull
warming leather in the sun,
its eyes slit to feathers of gold.
Quickly, the photograph,
trap this moment, the shadows playing like purple flowers
on her face as she throws her head back to laugh.
The girl is laughing,
her mouth is cleft fruit, wet,
her golden hand splays against white, the bones are perfect,
flowing from fingers
to wrists to elbows to neck
like the glimmering cables
of a sun-struck bridge.
My body is a bridge, she tells you, smiling.
There is always someone crossing over.
Inaki, quickly, take the picture, remember her this way,
Sunday afternoon on Skopelos,
grief sleeping in a sea
the same colour as your eyes.
You have missed a thousand other moments of her life.
You were too breathless to take pictures
when she was naked on the beach,
singing for no reason.
You inhaled her voice and nearly choked,
but she chuckled as watermelon seeds
fell on her belly,
oh, the pink juice, she said,
and pulled your head down
to lick her clean.
Even as she swam, you only stared
at the gloves of blue water stroking her body.
You cannot photograph any of that,
or the years she has picked grapes
and found fine Greek men to fuck.
She leans against the wall of the white church.
All the walls leading up and away are white,
or blue, azure, draped with sleeping cats and flowers,
fuschia and flame cascading over every fence.
Her body will be the arched bridge beneath you,
you will cross over her,
pound over her, running,
rushing, the flesh on her skeleton
will be pale as a clay road
under the moon.
The church is two hundred years old.
Her face will not
last that long.
You will die.
Take the photograph.
You are dying now.
The church is two hundred years old. Her face will not last that long.
You will die.
Take the photograph.
You are dying now.
The colours will never be like this again.
Blind old men will wander home from the docks, dazed by the stench
of dead fish and feline sex.
As the water roils to darkness, the sky
will raise the rotting face of a black angel.
In late evening, Isadora's smooth-plank back
will snap away from your bed.
She will fling open every door and window
in this house,
weary of your rich skin,sickenened by
the brackish musk of your love.
Spain takes you in like a masked lover,
ties you up with a red scarf,
throws you the ocean's score
and commands you to sing.
You are fooled by the grace of a man's hand
gliding over a woman's bronze neck.
You are fooled by black eyelashes, amber eyes,
mouths that smell of chocolate and wine.
Spain teaches that the body is its own absolute.
The body is greedy and simple, honest, a hungry child.
The Mediterranean insists that the mind
is a snake in the sand,
turning its sharp tongue in venom.
1n EI Greco's city of narrow streets, the sabres
pierce your eyes to sunsets
that awe even the gods.
Through a butterfly dance of bats, the violet sky
sweeps down to kiss the velvet desert, reaches down to kiss your face,
and stars drop ivory petals of light in your eyes.