A Cargo of Green Hearts
I begin preparing for Dark before I awake humming just a little, then ten hours
of practicing a song blindfolded, no cheating a look at the low-flying sun
then just before bed examine myself for holes, cup my hand under the faucet
for a final drink, a toast to you dear life.
today all the poems I read were about shadows and black bears crows incubi
pianos cast from windows mistakes that flap in attics. something slouches toward
dawn—I can feel it move beneath my window with a cruel sail.
this is true cold January 20 not at all like those July nights when the dark falls over
your head soft as a nightshirt and the air licks you with moist kisses. the caroling
crickets offend Death who plugs his old ears and groans. you don’t wait
worrisomely in July you swim through it, you don’t pick at its plate you stick your
entire head in the bowl (do that now and it seems the bowl eats your face).
listen friends when I was a kid January was what happened after all the
disappointing presents had been opened and the tree turned brittle as a
malnourished bone. then, waiting--and there was no waiting like January waiting.
and sure it’s true if we were numbered among the Sane Animals we’d sleep
through the thin days, but this is what we gave up when we cut off the tails
we used to wrap our cold noses in. the bears ridicule us by standing on
their hind legs. the madhouse chattering of the red squirrel is their word
for “fool” and “man” one in the same. what were you thinking, they say.
you gave up all this curled dreaming for a sack of shivering and a worship of
clocks--is it any wonder you’ve picked a tweeting ape to lead you.
try and deny it when the night comes by and says I dare you and the hearts
you tended shatter like frozen cabbages. the heat just got turned off by
the New Slumlord and the snow under moonlight suddenly looks like a warm
white blanket. I could, you think, pull it over my head and for good measure
but not me, friend, not today. no, I’ll join the sun worshiping aboriginals
who believed and still do (whatever is left of them) that you must sing
the sun up every day, dare crack your voice even when the hood is
pulled around your neck. for when the hammers start trampling the violins
and the ice fills up the trumpet it’s all we’ve got and January or not some
of us had better remember how to carry a tune.
they’ll give you no points for mumbling about the Dark when you’re in it
but will kiss the first person to raise her voice for the Dawn.
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