Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wayfarers


Public Domain

Can you really believe the conestogas
lumbered according to a reason? In the yellow--
yellow sun, yellow heart of the sunflower,
yellow dust, yellow butter, yellow
fringes of the pages of great Bibles--
in that yellow can you find a reason,
find a meaning stronger than the fire to say
"I'm never going home"? And then imagine
California to Japan the never questioning again,
the never-thought-of burning-another-way:
for motion, for flight, for steel for warmth;
so you take the flight at night from Detroit
to New Orleans and never stop seeing the fire
like amber spilled so many ways you can no longer say
"forward" or "to this blank shadow--is it water?--
we will never return." You meet me
at a French Quarter café. I ask you how
any of this could be different, and your hand
slides from the back of my hand. Already
I know you have vanished into this daylight,
and that we might question forever how
we arrived, remember the waiter's gleaming
jacket and your dark glasses and saffron dress
the last I saw you turning away in the fire
of the middle of the day, how the crowd accepted
another flame among them. Then I left.
Can you imagine us, all of us, now when it is never dark?
What was in our shadows? What did we remember
in the night that made us move and cry? Where lies
that place we ever thought we could return?

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