I remember when your poetry branded my pages in hot blood-soaked strokes, spurting in pools around my feet. I wanted to burn there with you, gathering my strength from The Son.
Glory letters, free of fragments, danced dove-like amidst the flames. I wanted to be your words, to whip with them in wind and smoke, sweat with them in chanting huddles, painting faces and cave dens with curious figures and scriptures, passing on metaphors like war tokens.
I was sure you would spend your remaining years levitating cathedrals and color-wheeling crucifixes,
soaking the streets with Rilke and Chopin.
Over the crowded cities, traffic jams, and chain-linked hearts of huddled masses, from strained eyes to cracked lips, your songs would rain, without pause for pity.
You sent me a card about death.
Death was in the shape of the envelope, the placement of the 40-cent stamp in the right-hand corner, the dried saliva on the folded seal, the wild, careless cursive parading across soft parchment like a sad funeral invitation: a caravan of coffins, white flags, and crooked brows. I saw your sorry, crumpled face with a smudge of tears, moistened ink crinkling the page, foreshadowing of the letter to come.
I tore you open, sinking my teeth into my bottom lip, deeper with each word. Where was the poet who once flooded over bathtubs, shouting “Why do we crucify ourselves?” above the rumble of road construction, and the redemption of dead widows? You saw through every optical illusion, every vaginal riddle, every Priest’s skirt, every play on words. You flew over the minds of scholars, landing lotus-like on their conundrum of furrowed brows, conjuring invisible secrets you would only reveal to me in a creaky basement, under the comfort of an afghan of stars.
I loved the portrait of young Mary by your bedside. I can see her staring into your constellation-creased face, beyond your event horizon where no man or God has pressed a footprint, shed a skin cell, or penetrated a light beam. This is where your words to me flowed: the unscathed space of mysterious blackness from which I dreamt…
the scrying mirror
from which I saw my own worth.