Catechist of gnarled oak trees, marshes, small suburban marinas,
cinders, and gutted mattresses, I let myself be slung
along tracks from one city toward another. Stain
of rose water where the Sound remembers the sun,
where reeds write hieroglyphs in a silver-plated bog.
A dilapidated barge, half-sunk, hunches from slime.
Chain-link fences, dim factories, tumble of trash down a bank—
my country, my countryside, hurls itself away
as twilight catches in each broken window.
The yachts are shrink-wrapped for their winter coma.
I’m riding away from my love. “It is the secret
of holding the sword with Nothing in your hands,”
the Demon Sermon instructs. Am I holding a sword?
My hands are open, I touch the window of this speeding train,
my heart was torn open and now it’s all window.
Branches have ripped the cirrus gauze, and evening
floods through. Dalmatian-spotted woods,
snow patches and leaf patches spin by, wooden stakes
poke like bad teeth from mudflats, the silken,
pearl-gray kimono of sky is draped over Long Island Sound.
The horizon’s illegible. We have left
neat houses, sidewalks, picket fences behind in a blur.
But somewhere back there, in lamplight, a child bends over her page,
grips a pencil, and starts to build letters that spell a world.
Original appearance in Raritan.