When, like your narcissus, I go to sleep

When she was young
she would sit, singing birdsong trills
and madrigals in her ptarmigan throat.

We were green flesh.
Our thoughts ran together, acid and restless,
and she sang when she was nineteen,
on a California rail,
her voice in the Big Sur fog.

I built her a wedding bed
from pine and mountain hemlock.
We sleep between our whittled angels.

But she no longer sings.
In our wedding bed
her eyes weep diamonds
pressed by the moon
from some ancient pain,
from a cavernous pain.

When I enter her
she oils the sheets,
resinous as a Lebanese tree.

She rests her eyes
from their inlaying
on my arm, her walnut eyes.
There is no wealth
that does not come
from the body of my lover.

Rising for work,
with a handful of gems,
we sweep away the bloodstones
of her grieving.

One thought on “When, like your narcissus, I go to sleep

  1. 12th century. Mahsati Ganjavi. Moon lady. She wrote:

    Each night, with sorrow for you, a new hardship I see
    In my sight, instead of sleep, tears I see
    When, like your narcissus, I go to sleep,
    A dream I have, more disheveled than your hair.

    I wanted the poem to sound as though it hadn’t originally been written in English — like White Peacocks, as though it had been translated from Persian, or Portuguese.


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