The shortest day of the year, and she—
he? all right, I—count up the days,
count up the days till the oh my lord the end
of the year, penetrant with cold,
such is the climate of solitude,
and one's own story—one's? whose?
his? hers? nearly told.
Prefaced, postfaced, edited
with time's red pencil, then enclosed
in a self—addressed correctly? stamped,
The new year smiles, a jogging starlet,
and will, mark my words, outshine the old,
and the older stories—outs, theirs—
get darker with each year they're told.
Only to music
do our lives leave their tenses, like shoes,
outside the door.
Leave their gender on racks above the seat;
our skeletons keep us from lurching.
Only to music
unwrapping our senses, do yesterday, after, before,
this year, next year, morning or night,
imply more than our own extinction
as they rotate
with the heavenly bodies,
as music's time helps us endure
our time, its pauses,
while we sit facing one direction,
or stand conducting to no one
but ourselves becharmed,
to etch it on grooves in our brain.
Themes gestated in another,
we feel born of our outpourings,
our own wrist and index finger.
Notes take their places in black-tie
or white, like an orchestra, one by one;
curtsy to music's Rome,
bow to its Jerusalem,
all bells a-gong.
Rhythm grabbed by its feet— gotcha!
running in some ancient Ambrosian hymn,
Berlioz, Gershwin or lullaby,
as humanly simple, unforced a gesture
as licking a thread on the tongue
to ease it through a needle's eye/
The shortest day.
Solitude talks itself hoarse.
People are going home
with their perfect and pitiful human plumbing,
with their pleasure havens, sewage, gender, blood
Theirs, yours, whosever, mine.
One's story—whose? does it matter?
one's gets set
in meters composed
of the years that lived with their narrator
till presto then largo they finally burst
the self's glued envelope.
I hear their cries compact the air.
And yet they—only I?—can just feel hope,
feel it, know it will declare itself—
feel it like the hoof
in a pregnant mare.
Though stories get darker each year