SONG FOR JEANNIE
This is a song for you about you & around you
like a minuet cocoon of tenderness & regret.
Jeannie, everything on this planet is going to die,
the computers are humming the limit a hundred years.
I told my son Ben that scientists say our sun will super-nova,
swallowing us with its blessing of hydrogen corollas & love
five billion years from now and he cried like any limit makes tomorrow.
I think of his tears now & suddenly everything is important,
even the wards for the prematurely wise.
I remember the night when I met you & you were dancing
about the flower in your womb & it was a delight that strengthened me
against the streets of New York with their bombs & dollars
& wine bottles of murder. I remember another night when we sat
near the fire the first summer of the lake & you spoke of the rising & rising again
of the flashlights to meet the restless dead parts of ourselves.
I remember the rainbow headband you took off your waist for me,
the sweat & the grapes & the devoured men in your tent. I remember
your hair demanding a hill facing sunset with the will of your deceased bank
account & I remember how you hugged me & said you loved me
when you knew I thought you insane, & that’s the shiv in my spine
that we all thought you into Bellevue where you walked out the door,
out of the white corridors & the shock treatment
& I can see you walking back into that fireside talk astonishing us
with all your time travel & prophecies in children’s rhymes & I have this
vision of you running in a hospital smock over the Hudson River
in a narcosis of headlights toward the century we have left
where all the broken marriages & destroyed Californias,
the desperation to find father, mother, child, & the Holy Ghost in one man
who will not kill you with his dying, his black whiskers of photographs
& his boyish smiles, all count, very much. No dream of whips
& multiplication tables will black out the sun, which will be with us ‘til we end.
It doesn’t matter whether we do it in forests or on tugboats in the oily harbors,
that exquisite hunger in our centers, to live, to eat life,
that lovely & grieving appetite is it—what we are, in brilliance, hymns of comets,
is it, what we are kills us. It matters & it doesn’t matter if all is cloudless skies of
penance. Nothing is there between touching & needing to be touched.
What you suffered before us, the cold floors of your fight
with the economy of love, that there is never enough,
like there is never enough Moses or bread.
Your nursery school rooms are festooned with alphabets & zebras.
So this is the endsong of the one who know living is dreaming
the fire of your cells quavering over the dead lakes. Every nightmare
& betrayal, every half-Catholic, half-Jewish prayer, every coveted fur coat
& cheap rhinestone matters now as a stick in the house of beginning-to-be
is subtracted by the wind. The song & the fire will sleep like a fern
in the rock, the silence before the next movement stirs on the bows of Heaven.
Dance, little flower of the womb, dance now!