Seagulls flatter us upon the dock,
each image bellied upon the cluttered waves;
their parted, hectic beaks comma names,
and as they carve the air (ellipses, ovals)
clouds unfold their frescoes,
flocks of feathered gods wrestling;
sunlight twisting into shadows:
caves, or marble fingers clenched.
The river raves and flaps its dirty wings.
Injured fish, conjured up by dawn,
gape through the foam, accuse us
of forgetting intricate, miraculous spring.
The world was sorrowful.
Soft dactyls of rainfall touched the wall.
We gazed through beaded windows at the iron steeple
Obsidian unicorn hunched above the mist.
Pools sucked leaf and branch flat to paving stones.
Mercury images of mirrored rag women hawk at us in the rain,
Their voices threading past and present on one wracking song.
They safeguard burlap like lungs slung across their backs.
Where are those humped deacons who hurled hymns
in the church perched aside the mountain,
who saw and taught us to see evil and death
in all of live?
Sundays we scattered birds down the path,
clambering to see the sun bleed
voluptuously into the flood.
The river bore us under the trestle
till we were dashed into logs wallowing in eddies.
Under a willow, over the curling river,
we were souls adrift on the rapids.
Further then
There was a silver ball on a plinth
(by the pond broiling with fire-golden carp)
that caught us as we passed, swept us to the meridian
where we diminished into the sphere.
Akimbo, you balleted toward yourself
emerging live from the core, growing, growing.
We laughed like Eskimos
when you rubbed noses with your likeness.
Always, then, April, too, was inside
(by the pool reflecting skies and blossoms
rippling the cherries till the flowers fell).
Now again
Hieroglyphic birds wheel in the air.
At the perigee the poise and form another face,
and yet another face, and still another
as we sum our separate lovers one by one,
the coolness of your hand in mine.
Our fiction is lost.
Under crab apples the snow spiders drop
noiselessly to the ground.
Our fiction is lost.
But were you the girl
whose plaited hair I wound about my fist,
and were I the boy first kissing you
in the silver ball, reeds blowing in the duck-blind,
even then, should we lie in the last damp bed
cramped in a desolate embrace,
I could not kiss the filigree of your ear,
nor your fingertips, one by one,
(nor hear them drop in a rattling cluster of bone.)
We are the sum of boys and girls we have loved,
whirling in tornadoes of memory,
dancing in the tricks of time.
The leaves fall like days from the year.

92nd Street
New York 1961

From Patrick’s collection called poems.odt.