Datebook

If you stand here you can see the new

that looks down to the sky within the river

a narrative just undertaken

though no sound reaches the figure

outside. Scores collect and dissipate

like oxygen entangled in water, seem

near except for silver things

that move at night. A third apparition

backs up, stops again—same

hazard, logorithym, shadow under leaves

caught in a net, though briefly.

It’s been raining off and on for years

and names we have replaced begin to soften

pauses unalloyed by any other

that as rumored is a little dark.

If you listened you could hear themes passing

as each intended note falls off

across late afternoon glare, gives way

to artificial measures, but that’s

not really right. There are yet other exits

without doors or awnings, adjacencies

whose parts align and then, as if deliberately

shut down, although this would be as good

a place as any not to forget

the first suspension of a muted chord

on a day that strangely makes no difference

whether the delay is temporary or meant

to wind up somewhere else.

What happens next concerns no one at all—

strangers barely notice quiet breaking

intermittently calm waters narrow

via intermediate trees reflected

beneath an oxidizing sky. Yes,

but now they’re listening. The message

burned into what you’d thought of as

yourself has been revised too many times

to offer news about the world in which

its words are set, parallel constructions

whose lesson is obscure. There must be

compelling reasons for this silence

coming from the hills, a voluntary recall

made simple by the loss of detail

“musical phrases perfectly sum up,”

recognizable enough to parse

cadences fed by others to the wind.

Something beside stasis keeps repeating

three’s and four’s within a blue uncertain

whether offbeats count as one or many

when you’d expected absence. Gleams

of sun move closer to their passage

through slant light, interrupted

by apostrophes that turn the work

of termination into just another missing

‘g,’ refer back to yellow prisms:

you will not be departing.

The pattern comes to seem no more than

nightfall just ahead, a soundscape

in which running water echoes speech-acts

but not one simple written page becomes

unutterably blank, no song-cycle, trace,

nor any humming sound made tuneable

by greetings you would have slept

a long time not to hear. Add

banners, birdcall, things with limbs—

the next a hundred yards behind the peace

of night dividing night as it is dreamed, yet close

to ice plants, obligatory snow storms, broken phones

in the disappearing half-life shuttling

back and forth across landings there’s no point

trying to escape. Someone might make whiteness

rise from the river on days you thought

were all alike become like music, but still

you gaze into a surface that gives back

nothing at all, not even silver-grey

or purple settling in the evening sun.

The problem isn’t whether to disguise

 a faded subject but is one of seeing:

if you ever were and whose you might

have been. Past, passing, or to come—

is it still possible to be this question

lengthened by recurrent phrases

mostly empty burdens that adhere,

combine, are unable to ignore

a riddle you’re not sure of having heard?

Where first-person vagrant answers

such as “no one owns me” or “I belong to x”

modify a body nested within clauses,

repeat, exactly, what was on the page,

the river spills into a second

of which you are the paraphrase.

The curve continues what led to it—

three breaths, three vocables, a single zero

prompted by verbs that would have minimized

how hard it is to enter the same stream

twice without a speaker. Someone says

but that’s not really more than color

wheels combine uncomplimentary shades

which do not matter, water rearranges

sundials, weapons, bells, a wayside bridge

across the sound the cascade brings. Shock

waves, years of them, confuse those voices

in the dusk with rhythms found in transit,

retrieve an antecedent louder than any

that came before. If you stand here

long enough to see the new thing promised

you will not remember how it felt

unless the presence of a larger series

emerges naked from within the word “to give,”

until it’s ended. Until it’s ended and another

free to act as if alone disturbs

mid-sentence shifts you’d thought were

numerous enough to seem an evening sky

you saw again, the object of a pause held still

without regard to who or what you are.

Record not having any law to follow

slashes softer than a comma, break

so slight it hardly lengthens uneven distributions

there’s no use trying to forbid the possibility

of choosing rather than the choice itself

and all the sad etceteras of lines

replied to merely by continuing

a scale distended so there might be less

you’d given up, sketched in, or held against

indifferences running through too thin, I said.