if I could I would turn my bicycle
into a movie projector
I would reel the film around the front tire
and back onto the rear tire
and pedal so fast that I would keep
the light mounted on the frame burning
I would do all I could to stay steady
over the sidewalk cracks and curbs
to keep the movie of you running toward me
splashed on buildings and sky
if I could turn my bicycle
into a movie projector
if I could pedal this moment into forever
and pedal and pedal it into forever again
does the earth
fall apart in your hands
every time you try
to pick it up?
were those your underthings
I heard last night
rustling in the wind?
whose stallions were those –
kissing the sunset
in your dream
about the color orange?
and how far did you get
by the way
in that cathedral
you were building?
On the notion that once upon a time there were lighthouse keepers and therefore lighthouse keepers’ wives and that at the same time there were also traveling projectionists with trunks full of projectors and their lenses and boxes of silent films and the idea that at some point there must have been a projectionist hired by a community or by the Coast Guard or by the lighthouse keeper himself to come with his magic boxes and show them on one of the white-washed walls of the lighthouse keeper’s house and on the chance that at some point during the screening a fog rolled in or a ship’s horn sounded out at sea and the lighthouse keeper excused himself and rose a little unsteady on his feet his shadow thrown briefly on the screen with the pantomiming actors on it and climbed the tall tower to make sure there was enough fire for the lamps or to adjust the angle of the reflectors and look out with his telescope across the ocean and during such time that the lighthouse keeper’s children were asleep on their blanket in the grass with the light from the flickering film dancing on their eyelids and the projectionist sitting next to his machine with its breath sleepy across his face and his eyes not so much on the film as on the back of the bare neck of the lighthouse keeper’s wife wondering how it might smell or taste and then bringing himself to focus again on the next reel readying it for the projector while the lighthouse keeper counted the steps to the top of the tower as he always did but this time with his skin tingling from what the projectionist lit onto the side of his house and the wine the projectionist brought with him and that knowledge that all of it made his wife happy and perhaps calmed her restlessness a bit as she sat on the grass down below and felt the projectionist’s eyes on her neck and considered all such necks he must have looked at when he should have been watching the movie which at this point was showing a particularly romantic moment in which two lovers realize that they will fight all odds to be together and she pulled her shawl up around her neck and tucked the blankets a little closer around her children and heard her husband sound the whistle and heard also the motors of the beacon and the answer of the ship out on the water and the chance that the lighthouse keeper’s wife would wonder how far away the whistle could be heard and how far the light could be seen out on the ocean and who heard it and if this time they wondered what that other light was thrown onto the side of her house and if they longed to be her with her husband high in his tower and her children asleep on the lawn and this man who brought magic in his boxes yearning for her just for a few seconds out there in the dark.
Jimmy Armstrong is the dwarf circus clown in this photograph by Bruce Davidson taken in 1958. Maybelle met Jimmy Armstrong in the photograph in a gallery in Chelsea last week. I asked her to stand next to the photograph so I could take a picture of her with Jimmy Armstrong to send to our friend Cedric. Maybelle stood next to Jimmy Armstrong and imitated him. Three seconds later, Cedric was looking at this on his computer in South Dakota.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I am absent but deep in this absence
asleep but asleep in this absence
glasses rattle a tongue remembers rain
how long can one keep in this absence
the waves from far off lisp her name
the brooms of dusk sweep in this absence
rain on driveway stones is my one morphine
forget counting sheep in this absence
last night I woke in some hotel outside Denver
tried but couldn’t weep in this absence
there’s so little time . . . the treeblur out the window . . . the distance just beyond . . . if you have a moment to put down the phone . . . to stop what you’re doing . . . please interrupt the chatter . . . to be quiet for a flash.