I'm the original two-hearted brawler.
I gnaw the scrawny heads from prawns,
pummel those mute, translucent crustaceans,
wingless hummingbirds, salt-water spawned.
Canny has always been an Irish word
to my ear, so too its cousin crafty,
suggesting not only an appreciation of close-work,
fine-making, handwrought artistry,
Gravel paths on hillsides amid moon-drawn vineyards,
click of pearls upon a polished nightstand
soft as rainwater, self-minded stars, oboe music
distant as the grinding of icebergs against the hull
On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell
We construct it from tin and ambergris and clay,
ochre, graph paper, a funnel
of ghosts, whirlpool
in a downspout full of midsummer rain.
Beneath a ten-foot-tall apparition of Frosty the Snowman
with his corncob pipe and jovial, over-eager, button-black eyes,
holding, in my palm, the leathery, wine-colored purse
La Serenissima, in morning light, is beautiful.
But you already knew that.
5am: the frogs
ask what is it, what is it?
It is what it is.
If Socrates drank his portion of hemlock willingly,
if the Appalachians have endured unending ages of erosion,
if the wind can learn to read our minds
and moonlight moonlight as a master pickpocket,
surely we can contend with contentment as our commission.
Deer in a stubble field, small birds dreaming
unimaginable dreams in hollow trees,
even the icicles, darling, even the icicles shame us
with their stoicism, their radiant resolve.
Listen to me now: think of something you love
but not too dearly, so the night will steal from us
only what we can afford to lose.
The last two sherpas were the strongest,
faithful companions, their faces wind-peeled,
streaked with soot and glacier-light on the snowfield
below the summit where we stopped to rest.
The first was my body, snug in its cap of lynx-
fur, smelling of yak butter and fine mineral dirt,
agile, impetuous, broad-shouldered,
alive to the frozen bite of oxygen in the larynx.
The second was my intellect, dour and thirsty,
furrowing its fox-like brow, my calculating brain
searching for some cairn or chasm to explain
my decision to send them back without me.
Looking down from the next, ax-cleft serac
I saw them turn and dwindle and felt unafraid.
Blind as a diamond, sun-pure and rarefied,
whatever I was then, there was no turning back.