I wrote something, then wrote something more. I went
out with the cameras to the river and stood with the light
for a long time, the way an artist is supposed to. Sometimes
I wonder what the neighbors think, seeing me walk around
the block to the bend in the river, cameras hung from me,
tripod like a giant microscope over my shoulder. I made
something of the day. I made something.
Suddenly, dusk hovering at the eaves,
a mood comes over like the end of the world.
I catch myself dropping the brush to weep.
This infinity that never quite goes away.
It's what artists do: make themselves open, attentive,
to see everything that's there, that no one else
bothers to look at.
This morning, reading, sitting on the porch,
a ruby-throated hummingbird hovered long
at the pink-and-white morning-glories,
hovering a long time probing each blossom's heart,
at the flower trellis inches from my knee,
on the other side of the window. Motionless,
I wait, watch, dare not breathe. Then whoever
paints the day moves his palette on, and the flicker
of solid light that is this fiery tiny bird, disappears
in a flash and whir. A long lingering followed,
as I had put down my book and had nothing
better to do, to look at, then the sun-patient flowers.
This year I thought the morning-glories would not survive.
Instead, they are a profligate marvel, a riot, a band of gems.
Night brings on silent desolation. I am mourning for
something lost, I don't even know what. How can a painter
ever trust words? Words turn into ashes. But you can
grind ash into pigment, and apply it to the day. Words
leave less than ash, behind, in their wake. They dissolve
in a flash and whir. Wind up the world, watch it run down,
again. I know what's missing. I just don't know why.
When and where have their own mysterious alignment.
Moods come over you like cold weather. I shiver when
I should be sunning. Cold useless reptile blood stirs slow.
The third anteroom is full of useless reptiles, waiting
to be swept out. As soon as the sun strikes the adobe,
back in Taos, back where I can see the sun, back
at Joshua Tree, where the sun was anvil-struck brass
and blood and heart-filled sacred sinew. Drum in veins,
blood and feet shuffling, nod head towards sleepless dawn,
copal in the firepit, magnificent strands of blessing link
up in parasols of solar haloes. Moods are like that:
the sun comes out, the sun goes away, behind cliff or cloud.
It's not up to you. You just weather it, like monsoon season.
Now there are crickets on the porch and in the basement.
It's too cold for them to want to sing. But a cricket in the house
is the gods' blessing. At last a trade blanket, a pillow for making love,
even if your belly can't fold that way anymore. Some
movements are restricted. It started out such a good day.
How did it end up here, in something like dying mesquite embers?
I need to get back to the desert. I need to be behind the wheel.
I need a white scarf, a barnstorming white-and-pink biplane,
and nowhere to be but the next farm field to land in
when you run out of gas. Free afternoons by the lake. I missed
all that, again, another summer missed. Now it's night frost
under a silver moon one day past full. Nothing resembles
forgiveness like a waning moon.
I'll sit on the porch awhile. The morning-glories are closed
in the dark. Maybe tomorrow I'll wake at dawn and bundle up
in love-made blankets and stare at clouds from the porch.
If there are any. You have to do some time in blankets,
a necessary hour. If you spend too long ignoring the vines,
they start to come inside, invading hours and lovers
like bird-beaks and pine-cones, flowers and snow.
Do you think I can't see that? I'm trying to talk myself
into something better. It takes everything I have to fall asleep.
Once you wake up, there's no hope of returning to the dream.
That's not the loss that matters, though. What matters
is the end of endless suffrage.