hung suspended under skies hazed with oncoming distant
storm, counting hawks perched in trees watching for field mice,
counting days till the day of the deadline, counting toes
and fingers, counting hairs on your belly, counting every breath
during long evenings meditating on hot days as the sun fades
into cloud haze and evening breezes turn down the atmospheric
thermostat, counting friends in rows of billboard stances
each hovering above the long road in line as though they could
say something to fix everything, counting seconds till you fall
asleep, counting slats in the frame of the new bed before you
drop heavy cotton futon mattress on solid and firm of surface,
counting the season's first fireflies pulsing in outer dusk,
counting to keep from thinking about what you don't want to
think about, counting obsession as surfeit and surcease, counting
down, counting down to the day and hour when everything is done.
You spend long sessions of placing your hands on your belly,
still unviolated, to feel what your skin is like now, to give nurture
or something like, in the same way young mothers hold their bellies
before birthing, before the new life begins, born in blood and shouting,
born in passion and sweat, pain and exaltation, holding your belly
as though about to give birth, as though the new self will be birthed
through the soon incision from groin to above navel where they will
take out the organ that has kept you from living a full life for years
or longer, looking back on undiagnosed episode sixteen years gone,
counting backwards, counting till the jaw aches from its clench,
till the calves and knees are sore in weather change that passes through
and goes out burning into new kinds of cold.
Those few days of early summer when the gods of late high summer
visited, when the air was thick with fragrant humid greening, air
temperatures hotter than the blood, in which merely walking exertion
was enough to shed a liter of sweat, in which on successive burning
afternoons you found a trail in the woods above a freshet and thicket,
where you were able to shed your clothes and walk naked in the heat,
catch every slight stir of air on your skin, antennae of hair responsive
to amplitude and direction and hiss of long conversations between trees.
There is not accounting of what cannot be counted, the long slow dark,
the drugged dreaming in which vast beasts move just behind the eyes,
the veil, the dark between worlds, where forgetting makes new home,
new journey, new sand in an old desert, no accounting of what silent dream
cannot be said, that words do not exist to describe, in a dream without words
where nothing is said but movement connection absence silence.
When the cold comes down it drops as a curtain over the woods,
over the long sea road, and you get back into your life like putting on
clothes, like resuming a patrol in which long staggering eggs shell into
white sands, a long knife counting, an unaccustomed coup, tall slivers
of old wood beaten by sun into varnished desperation.
Some new remnant of a memory ahead of the parting of skin, of flesh
into new lips, a new jaw, a steaming contrail of steam from viscera
exposed to the cold operating theatre air, a puff of inner wind, not the soul
escaping, which is trapped under tubes and long silver cords connecting
wrist to tube, heart to palpating screen, sleeve to sensitive trace of risen
blood escaping from the smiling wound, from the guts cut upon to breathe.
When you dream an anaesthesia dream it's full of sharp men fighting
each other beneath the peaks and slopes of spear edges mountain peaks
bundled with snow and salvage, of wrecked cedar cabin beams, roofs
stove in to let the bad air out after the old one died there.
There is a long counting of pulse and rhythm in flesh, a long scythe
of dots moving on a screen, counting each heartblood pulse, each breath,
each stimulated lost dream.
Then the core of you, the lost core, is counted on a chain of microscopes,
a long tube conveyor made of seamed cord and shiny rubbery tissue.
And when the blank stare achieves its zero-point, all eyes turn to white.