Song of Patience
For a lovely instant I thought she would grow mad
and end the reason’s fever.
But in her hand she held Christ’s splinter,
so I could only laugh and press a warm coin
across her seasoned breasts:
but I remembered clearly then your insane letters
and how you wove initials in my throat.
My friends warn me
that you have read the ocean’s old skeleton;
they say you stitch the water sounds
in different mouths, in other monuments.
“Journey with a silver bullet,” they caution.
“Conceal a stake inside your pocket.”
And I must smile as they misconstrue your insane letters
and my embroidered throat.
O I will tell him to love you carefully;
to honour you with shells and coloured bottles;
to keep from your face the falling sand
and from your human arm the time-charred beetle;
to teach you new stories about lightning
and to let you run sometimes barefoot on the shore.
And when the needle grins bloodlessly in his cheek
he will come to know how beautiful it is
to be loved by a madwoman.
And I do not gladly wait the years
for the ocean to discover and rust your face
as it has all of history’s beacons
that have turned their gold and stone to water’s onslaught,
for then your letters too rot with ocean’s logic
and my fingernails are long enough
to tear the stitches from my throat.