Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sleeping in the Ruined Mill

Sleeping in the ruined mill,
night-wind slipping through windows
blinded years ago by fire,
I dream that you arrive with food
in a plastic cooler and unroll

a sleeping bag and drift off
and dream that I arrive with wine
in a paper bag and uncork it
and pour it on your shining body.
You awaken from that dream but still

in my dream lean over and slap me
awake. The wind has died. Mice creak
in rubble of brick and charred timber.
Alone with the dapple of stars,
I rub the cheek you slapped but

feel nothing. A red and white
plastic cooler rests beside me.
Maybe I brought it here myself.
I pour wine in a paper cup
to rinse away the sleep-taste.

A few yards away the mill-race
snores along at terrible speed.
Even to dip a hand in it
means an abrupt and icy death.
I’m not fool enough to believe

you dropped by and left this cooler.
The wine bottle is almost full.
I haven’t poured it on anyone,
I swear. Something larger than mice
or rats moves in the rubble:

someone as homeless as I feel
at this moment, the last tatter
of dream-life snagged on broken brick
and a shadow overlapping mine
in a snarl of useless gestures.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Removing Your Earrings

Removing Your Earrings

In Turners Falls a ruined mill
gapes like a skull in the desert.
Fire unroofed it and toppled

most of the upper floor. Bricks
pepper the weeds on the shady side.
The sunny side abuts the mill race,

a mile-long trough of river shining
with confidence in its depth.
That’s the kind of confidence you showed

the day you dared me to photograph
the sky above Tremont Street.
Later you asked me to remove

your earrings from your pierced ears.
The intimacy thrilled me all over,
but after that moment we faded

like brown old albumen prints
of people who lost their names.
Photographs of this ruined mill

won’t fade because postmodern,
digital, they aren’t works of art.
You aren’t a work of art, either;

but unclipping those earrings
moved me like a trip to the Louvre.
In digital form neither ruins

nor human events retain depth
but only measurable dimensions.
The mill race, smug in its rush

from north to south, accepts
and conceals all sorts of debris.
The bricks that fell into it

the night of that massive fire
won’t emerge until Doomsday.
You’ll turn up long before then,

maybe this time flashing diamonds
in your earrings; and maybe
you’ll again dare me to photograph

clouds mating over Boston Common
while the subway groans and trembles
to underline our common fear.