No. 6


Chard deNiord  


How can they say the marriage failed
when I bore your weight in heavenís gravity?
Heard you calling from behind the trees
as I fell upward into the blue, leaving the world 
in which I breathed and walked with you? 
Lost you in a field where no birds sing.
How can they say the marriage failed
when I fell asleep again to make you real?
Dreamed of you returning, even now,
to lie beside me in a hidden field. 
To bandage the wound in my bloody side.


We stood on the bank of the beaver pond
and discussed the houses, abandoned for years.
I wanted to hold you as the sun went down
and a chill instilled the air. I wanted to talk
to you forever about the genius of animals
and what we learn from them, especially those
that are gone, the harlequin frog, the speckled bird.
We were on a plain above the field, a meadow
that rose to meet us there, then disappeared
like a wave. I could not see in that moment
I saw how blind I was outside the law
to the distance between that meadow and the field.
To that garden where the creatures thrived,
as if they were still here, alive, talking to us
as they did before without any fear.


How it burned inside you
like a thousand fires that melted
your skin in the cool of evening,
until you were changed, changed,
and you turned to it, visible at last,
and took your recompense, the looking 
in its eyes. You were ready then 
to conceive from nothing an artful 
child as you rode it down,
then kissed your sister on the mouth.
When you returned, you found 
its skin on the floor, still damp 
with sweat, discarded there 
like a soiled sheet and ripped it 
up for polishing stones and tying
to trees on the hidden path.


                                   In them he has set a tent for the sun,
                                   which comes forth like a bridegroom
                                   leaving his chamber.
                                                                                Psalm 19: 5

When I saw Mr. Gilliam, the choirmaster, 
from my infirmary window forty years ago
sitting perfectly still in the shade of his yard 
listening to the birds as the sun went down, 
how could I have known as just a boy 
with the flu that he was also walking 
in his garden beyond his body, hearing 
and seeing only those things that he could hear 
and see and feel, as if this were his final stroll 
through the beds of his resplendent flowers 
and he was taking them in, each blossom 
and thorn, each root and stem, remembering 
the face that had made him turn both this way 
and the other, oblivious to the bells 
in the chapel tower, but hearing a voice 
in the distant hills, through all the earth, 
that was the knowledge the day poured forth, 
although there were no words or speech.




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