May 21, 2007

Rehearsal in Black


The science of the irrational,

poetry knows what time is feeling

in the language we speak. Casual


as a crow above the pealing

tower, it circles our point of view

with applied indifference. The ceiling


is the limit only in the room;

love is torn between two sheets;

animals eat each other. Truth


is another order, beyond the heat

of sense. The memory of language

is a blind cold wall, a sweet


old man carrying a doll, pages

of silence framed by the chase.

What is love’s name in an age


of skin? Everything you face

is just as it happened, minus all

the details. You write a line a day,


whether bad or good, then fall

into a stupor. A line of black cars

arrives at the horizon. In the fall,


you’ve noticed, the fattest stars

get even fatter. Maybe it’s the air,

sodden with nostalgia. We are


what we are, a kind of rare

poison steeped in a kiss. Roots,

reeds, fish, the broken river—


everything is perfectly suited

for a local drowning. Here’s a shot

of the water surface, with its mute


tensions and the struggle not

to fold. The world, dispersing,

turns. Here’s the face of a god


no one remembers, in the church

of words. The American laugh,

said Jung, is urgent as a thirst.


It bowls you over with its raffish

humor and grabs you by the balls.

You can see the diver’s glove, half-


filled with blood, in the halls

of that museum, where nothing

finally matters but stands as tall


as it can. Life is always touching

the edges of a net. Light enters water,

and that is called perspective. Such ends


are met when language and space, neither

quite sufficient, negotiate a realm.

It’s cold inside, children have no fathers,


and mothers are desperate to tell

of love. It’s a landfill country, strewn

with cast-off things, where stone bells


ring and drowned boats rise. The truth

is confused but strikes for the prize:

the stone floor of the sea, red tooth


of existence, and what the eyes deny.

You descend the stairs to hell, walk

its plazas and parks, and manage to find


a date for the evening. She talks

of her desires, but this is not desire;

it’s the tender mercy of a leaf’s awkward


falling. At what firm margin, the fires

in the mirror or in your eyes, is love

to be found? Does the sea aspire


to be just water? In the weave of

your intentions, the air plays the air.

Nothing is nothing. In a coven


of mechanics, in the scariest

Hollywood mansion, love is the prize

and a touch of the fever. Rare


as existence, it has seen the mind

change the most desolate landscapes

into quiet rooms. It always finds


the world in absence, doors taped

shut. This is like the movies, a black

room filled with murmurs. As the drapes


are pulled, you see from the back

life’s enormous figures falling in

and out of focus, a final slackness


of being we later enjoy enduring.

The story is stained with its own

rehearsal. A handsome bed is burning.


Serious and alluring, a long dial tone

passes for conversation. No one’s

there but you, talking into the phone


like a younger father to an older son.


—Paul Hoover


from Rehearsal in Black (Salt Editions, 2001)

Posted by dwaber at May 21, 2007 12:37 PM