That earnest bottle rationing fluid into your arm—
saline, blood, alcohol, flattery, love—
I want that direct kiss with your circulation,
that atomic pulse. I've searched my workshop
in vain to discover the right tool to measure loss.
All I have is this arm crooked around the bowed neck
like a cheap feather boa, useless decoration and
essential ornament, tiny hairs racing to that light touch
as faces angle to footsteps advancing in the corridor.
Outside, the moon is a flimsy wet ring,
left from a shot glass, soon dry and gone.
Your face leans like sculpture about to fall
forward off a shelf. At this instant, our lives are composed
of arms and tongues wavering like thin bristles of light,
and trees radiating bright leaves with terrifying calm.
There is a syrupy, snakelike hiss of gas without flame,
a few words unspoken, that moment of indecision,
or a leg cramped down on an accelerator.
If only a hand could reach out, as through a soap bubble,
into a television set, and bring back
that perfectly scripted thirty-minute resolution, so timely,
so surrounded by products and personal growth.
Lately I've pictured us tucked safely
between the kettle drum hillocks of an old Irish home,
far, archaic, celtic, within earshot of a clean brook,
away from all this manufacture and layoff,
your skin and hair stretched apple tight,
pulled back, taut, as if for speed.
There, a crisp life of stone baked bread
and political bombings, of century old
cobblestones, older godlings, false bricks
where are stored clippings of a life,
a generation. The walls you see, the rooms,
distract from the real history—
minutiae, skin, tangled locks of hair,
tattered scapular or dried candlestick.
I'm turning into Thomas Hardy, tension, good scenery
and single small mistakes that haunt. Coward.
But here, hospital machines and orderlies play video games
with your life forces. Here I'm outside of that
necessary suspension of disbelief.
Here, telephones keep ringing like gaping fish,
their news of too much air, as the room is suddenly defined
by a nurse with a voice husky as a kidnapper's.
Sending bodies over wire
broken further than powder
translated into sound
then reconstituted at destination.
Here is a warm leg turned
into inflection, here
an ear described by a sigh.
Fabric rubbing, soft creak,
is somewhere nearly there
area codes away
twitching through switches
like a snake biting at a chest
then filling your room
like smoke, a proxied body
that would scatter
at your grasp
or even if you exhale
because all that makes it real
is the slick spark
of electricity that runs
with a hoarse whisper
from there to here.