Tucson in the Morning
In Tucson it’s better to go walking early,
When the sun is just up, and the light is yellow pink.
There are bird sounds, and everything is wonderful.
Even the men picking up trash on the college mall,
Are softly silhouetted. And lit from behind,
Their translucent bags glow.
They seem like a species of magician,
Or cohorts of the man
Who carries a lit orb to trick geese into thinking he is the moon.
When there are puddles,
They hold the clouds and sky in such a way
That, depending on your angle of approach,
Relative to the height of the sun,
Open like holes in the earth,
Into which you could float or fall.
But it doesn’t last long,
The light changes next to a violent white.(1)
The clouds burn off and the puddles dry up.
The magicians retreat and the bruja comes out.
She has her own business
That doesn’t involve pretty tricks of light.
She and the pigeons.
Towards noon a black disc appears at the center of the sun.
You can’t look at it, but you can see it nonetheless.
A metaphor for your soul,
A vision of your own death,
Or maybe God is manifest in the morning light,
And this is the winking eye of the devil.
Or the other way around.
These ideas are cute, but they are not real.
You know it is much more terrible than that,
Something your mind cannot think or hold.
There are coyotes out in the morning too.
You’ll catch one ducking into the oleander
With half the body of a cat.
And after rain sometimes you’ll come upon a hatch.
Ants swarming thick on the curb,
And suddenly surrounding you in a low flying cloud,
Of little amber bodies that appear to burn like tiny fires
Shot through with the early light.
Long open valley,
The road ahead is slick with mirage.
In the car you are Zeno’s arrow,
At rest, in a space just your own size.
You move without moving.
Your mind floats.
Your skull is an empty bowl.
The expanse of green fools you.
You mistake ragged sage and rabbitbrush for a lush grassland.
In fact, all of the rivers run the other way,
Off the far sides of the far mountains that make a transparent lip of the horizon.
There’s no living to make here.
It’s not a place for people.
The figures by the road are tricks of the eye.
These wide valleys ruin you for closed spaces.
Canyon walls lean in like city buildings.
Among tall trees you feel you cannot breathe.
Here the trees are stunted and sparse.
Each occupies a space just its own size.
Even when the sun is lowest their long shadows do not touch each other.
If you were walking along this road,
From a distance you too would be only a dark shape.
You would be transparent,
And disappear the way a far off bird will when it turns in the sky,
The way your shadow gathers and hides under your feet when the sun is highest.
Walking along this road,
There is no place at which to arrive.
Passing cars are sparse.
They grow from a long way behind and shrink quickly from you.
They seem not to have drivers.
Their passage seems without intent.
The mountains never get closer.
You remain at the center of an enormous empty bowl.
When night comes the stars are so bright,
You can see more clearly than in the day.
The mirages fall away.
You are the only thing not illuminated,
You stand in a space just your own size,
A small circle of darkness spreading out from under your feet.
The Mystery of the Self
The mystery of the self,
in a black room at night,
a train whistle comes and goes, far away,
and the bed could be any bed, in any room where you’ve ever slept,
featureless and familiar.
The world ends at your skin,
the distant whistle is your own breathing.
Your body, to itself, sounds like it’s miles away.
Night driving, the wheel makes a shadow on my lap, like a small blanket. Everything folds in on itself, in layers of sound and light that can be piled on or peeled away. Things coalesce: Pink Floyd, Hoover Dam, lightning, moon and a snake of headlights.
Deep in the bathtub I hear my heart, like wingbeats, like feet on a stair.
The kitchen light at dusk, reflected in the window, hangs in the tree outside.
A strand of your hair diffracts the sun like a prism.
Also spider webs.
The flashing of static in a sleeping bag.
A dark upstairs window.
The way trees sieve water, prolonging the rain.
New Mexico night,
tail lights float in the deep black
like animal eyes.
Life is fabulous.
The sidewalks shimmer and the
sky is too, too blue.
Dusk's slippage. The trees
gesture more intently. Snow
pours from the street lamps.
Up there! Unfettered, weather bursts,
Whorls a wet purse,
and coins fall
In street lamp lit cones of night.
The silver (livid!) flung living from that height,
My hair and face,
A cold tongue lisping at my eyes,
Ghost whispers gusting down down,
Flurries steering near
The street crack grass' cupped and waiting ear.
It's like reeling in time
in that time
when the sun is rolling back,
smoking away the day in puffs,
and everything is funny
because Justin, who's eight
'I can't wait to grow
up so I won't have
to worry about money,'
and he meant it
and the day is in a hurry
dropping the sun
like bicentennial quarters
spinning with his thumb.
It's Friday night.
We are like children.
This moment, we own everything we see.
When I was younger
I could live whole lifetimes in
the span of a year.
Boredom has power.
Time slows, and doors open, as
if by their own will.