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Turning off the Lights

Turning off the Lights
Turning off the Lights

These walls are from yesterday. 
Today, rain falls like history,
and trees speak of distant woes. 

My father stands on a cliff
contemplating childhood.

By afternoon, the world has changed,
become smaller,
desolate. 

All this is nothing —
these red leaves on autumn walks,

these planets hurtling from long ago.

Later, we may dream of fires
and singing.

The house will open her doors
for the dark, salty territory of night
to enter on wet footstep, 
falcon wing.

My father comes in to turn off the lights.

Together, he says,
we must call in the lost,

breathe shape into all that is vanishing. 


The Affair II


I. The Son

In a moment the boy will enter again —
a deserted city with marble eyes,
to roll his father between his fingers,
pat his chest as if it were still smooth-skinned and thin.

The boy stands in the horizon
where the sun is lowering herself in palm fronds
and jasmine garlands. She’s lowering her nubile waist
into the lap of Colombo’s sea.

Underneath, youth hides the bones,
the strings, the tendons,
those strained, drained depositories of manhood
ground into pelvises and hips.

Underneath, ships of worn stubble
are scraping against the beginnings of thighs, of light.
The boy exchanges bodies with his father,
watches the years change us by touch.

In a moment we become what we were.
The boy looks up from parting waters,
he throws us down like a ring of beaten flowers
tired from holding their breath.


II. The Father

I think he must confuse things.
Say he’s moving his unbroken fingers.
Say he thinks what he’s doing is stroking
his son’s hair, his own hair.

He moves in straight lines
like his father and his father and the one before.
He meets himself at the door
when he sees the boy every morning.

He feels the coarse undergrowth of my hair —
its terrifying darkness. He loses continuity,
moves back and forth, around and around,
relearns how he was taught to move at birth.

His body ruptures in empty hotel rooms,
languishes with all the parts he cannot touch,
speaks with old inconsistencies,
with secrets strapped to his mouth.

We pretend we have found a place
to be this and that: created, destroyed
And maintained — a universe intact.
It is pointless then —

the boy appearing in such a way,
emerging from the sullen belly of the ocean.
I am the light of the world, he says,
as if it could change anything.



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