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C.K. Tower

Chanting Matins

as dark as my eyelids,
shroud over stars,
the stale tongue,
aurora in motion,
unlit blue,
last star,
lingering scars,
reminders of ruined attempts,
fainter now,
gesture after gesture
of insufferable light,
and the rooks chained to the tree tops,
speaking in tongues
like little monks chanting Matins,
lighter and lighter,
the dog is restless and shifting,
pacing before the door,
I let him out, watching
as vestments of fog process
across the lawn,
lighter, lighter,
blue-gray, purple
spilling like wine
over the tops of houses,
somewhere there is
supposed to be a God,
but lighter and lighter,
more of the world everywhere,
people fold back their sheets,
strange covenants of loving
and dirty dishes from last night's dinner,
that ritual,
lighter, more yellow
like the sky
dipped in yolk,
the dog whines for breakfast,
the day begins to open,
parted like a hymnal,
pages of new light,
no death,
as in the last sunset,
that last service for expiring light,
and now more endless color,
the old tree
with it's crooked limbs
extending upward
out of a half-empty trunk,
leaves and limbs swaying,
a rustling homily of knots and hollows,
tulips part red lips, bow and swallow
wafers of sun,
I devour breakfast like a sacrilegious dream,
the entire day to survive,
lighter and lighter.
And this light-
no suggestion of death
that God concocted.

Gathering The Bones

I am taken by how deeply
she digs in the earth, planting
bulbs for Spring, poking
blackened fingers into mucky soil.
I imagine her digging down
to the two-million-year-old woman,
who is looking for her toes and claws.
She wants her for a present; bones are heavy
enough to wound, sharp enough to pierce flesh,
but when old and if strung, tinkle like glass.
Without her she is restless. And I know
it comes from not enough muck.

Here in the black soil she discovers a cure:
her two-million-year-old woman. Caretaker
of the dead and the dying and of woman-songs.
She sings the creation hymns over the bones.
She is the road between living and dead.
Under the flat plains, the woodlands, the deserts,
and the earth beneath our backyards, are homes
for the two-million-year-old woman.

And when she is lost I find her, hands deep
in the black muck digging down
to the old woman who always lives
in the dry bones of earth. And she tells me
to sift the dirt and see what I find. It is
the only work we have to do--
gathering the bones.

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