Text of the Poem

(Poetry for Students)

All my existence is a dark sign a dark
that will take you by itself
again and again
through incantation of itself5
over and over
to eternal dawn
bloomings and eternal growth
in this verse, in this sign
I sighed for you, sighed10
in this verse, in this sign, I versified
you, I joined you
to tree and water and fire

perhaps life
is a long avenue through 15
which a woman passes each day
with a basket
perhaps life is a rope
with which a man hangs
himself from a branch20
perhaps life is a kid who
returns from school
life could be lighting up
a cigarette in the relaxing interval
between two25
or life
could be could be some confused
transit of a passerby
who takes30
off his hat and to another passerby says
“good morning” with
a mean
-ingless smile

perhaps life is thatstopped instant in which35
my gaze lays waste to itself,
my gaze into the no-no of your eyes
and there is a sense in this
which I shall mix in with40
comprehension of the moon
and with perception of the pitch dark.

in a room as large as one loneliness
my heart, as large as one love, beholds
the simple subterfuges of its happiness45
in the beautiful way the flowers in the vase
in the sapling which you planted in our garden
and in the song of canaries, which
song is only as large as a window
. . .ah, this50
is my share
this is my share
my share is a sky, which sky
will be taken form me by
a curtain over it
my share is to descend by
an abandoned stairwell and come together
with something in rottenness and exile
my share is a grief-stained stroll in memory lane60
and giving up the ghost
in the sorrow of a voice
which calls to me, saying:
“I love
your hands.”65

I plant my hands in the garden
I shall grow green, I know I know I know
and swallows’ll lay eggs
in deep cracks around my ink-
stained fingernails70

I suspend earrings from my two
ears—earrings of two twin dark red cherries
and I’ll paste dahlia leaves
on my fingernails

there is an alley where boys75
who were in love with me—boys
with the same disheveled hair,
scrawny necks and stick-legs—
they dream of
a girl’s innocent smiles80
a girl who was carried away
one night by the wind
there is an alley
that my heart has stolen away
from my childhood’s neighborhoods85
the trip of a blob down the line of time
and said blob impregnating the dry line
of time

the blob of a conscious image which image
is reflected back from a party mirror90
and it’s this way
that somebody dies,
that somebody remains

no hunting or fishing worth mentioning
in a piddling little old crick95
which flows into a ditch
no pearls there for a fisherman to catch
I know a small sad mermaid
who lives
in an ocean and she100
plays her heart

gently, gently
on a wooden lip flute—list! . . .
a small sad mermaid
who dies in the night from one kiss105
and she
will be born at daybreak
from one kiss