Friday, September 19, 2008

Les Vapeurs

At night in the wooden precipice of sleep
I see between the black branches of oak trees
a lighter dark to the sky beyond,
so far beyond that the idea of distance
as a measure of travel unhinges
from language and bobs away
before filling with ocean and going down.

Because he may be sick tonight,
I want to think of my father, put him up
in place of my childhood. I think
of still water closing over the boat.
Instead I get the memory of a bus-stop
beside a concrete wall, a gaggle of children,
a blue bench of faded plastic, tin ashtray
filled with rain water and the soggy tea of butts.

I’m not even sure I am one of these children
I think I remember, so honey suckle grows
over the picture and I advance a fear of bees
which brings me back to my father
who is deadly allergic to bees.
Maybe it is the vine and its green steamy
odor, sledge of bright perfume that
always makes me think of triffids
or other sinister botanical assassins
drawing me in with a puff of pink
pollen and a tentacled vine.

Maybe it’s the blankets twisting
up my thigh and words over the bright
forever of space. Maybe the only way
I can ever conquer my childhood
is to be a beekeeper like Sylvia Plath,
grow larger than everything else, at least
in my mind, so I can squash it all.
Maybe I like to sit at empty bus stops
and smoke because that is the true
place of distillation. Distances becoming.

A pure turn of the bowl for the tea
ceremony, the leaves crumbled just
so, whisk of tree branch across the sky,
the steam evaporates, so begins autumn
which withers up the vines.


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