Backstreets
It was a backstreet cutting off from Rue Saint-Jacques & most of the apartments were shuttered still Against the brisk blades of early morning the sills of a few lined with green wood window boxes Of anemones or dahlias here or there blue geraniums & lilies & on Roxanne's second-floor balcony Just outside its open brass doors the tarnished antique cage still swaying slightly on its hook As her mustard-colored finch worked its way up a sequence of perches brushing each wing Along the cage's wires each as fragile as the bird's own bones & as I turned a corner losing sight of Roxy's For no reason I could imagine except my long-awaited absence her goldfinch began to sing An Ecclesiastical Sketchbook
Let learning be simple chalk and slate, corrugate flags of a late republic terror of form, in the line of a breast to bony hip: again ecclesiastic... —Norman Dubie Here is the way no longer lost yet still so often unremarked upon & which recalls Those old lessons of a hand as it insinuates its stroke along the sketchbook's rough page & if Reverie is a state beyond all forms allowed by the state This sweetness of dawn psalm claws at the lover's lips even in the sweat of nakedness— These days becoming so much less than we once believed— & as Raphael draws the tip of his brush along the breasts of the baker's daughter for whom he'd forsaken A Cardinal's scarlet robes & though he died with Margarita's portrait unfinished only days after Inhaling the poisoned air of a newly opened Roman tomb we try to learn again every way Art remains a last sanctified artifice of home although We can't help but taste how even our desires falter as the body falls to its altar Little Sur
As in the beginning the early tide at last collapses & recedes as porous knuckles of rock Shoulder their way above the foam where cormorants drift & settle & as the day begins inhaling These last wisps of morning fog & rags of sunlight lift into the redwoods rising up along The canyon walls & in the inlet below us elephant seals announce their daily dawn arguments With those lessons of pre-history & your hair floats across the bed as easily as strands of the ruby kelp That just yesterday rose silently beside the kayak as you carved a singular quiet along the waking bay



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