Willow

As a boy, I gazed at the painting of a mountain,
                                                 and although it did not move,
            I moved.

                                   I touched the diamonds of untouched canvas,
            extremities of blue

                                   in the long unruly hair of the willow
            where it bathed.

            It was a portrait of one man’s life alone
                                                                       as a mountain.

                                                 I love that man,

             I tell the animals who sleep with me
                                                                       and do not
                                     speak,

                                                    and still I feel persuaded to confide.

*

Once, I heard a mountain whisper.

                        I am so tired of hating myself, loving myself,

                        and who is not,

                                      who can tell the one from the other.

                        I could have stood there for an hour.

                        I could have wept and awakened, never the wiser.

                                        I was a survivor after all.

                         So when I left
                                                          the museum in the rain,
                                            I saw my hour everywhere.

                          In the shadow puppets of elms across the schoolyard,

                          the river that takes its iridescent chemicals south,

                          the crosshairs of the power station powdering the sky,

                                     I heard
                                                             the tiny increments
                        falling out of nowhere.

                        The long and gentle shatter that drugs our coat and hair.

                                    It reassured me. Go ahead, sleep.

                          You will always be a stranger to what you find there.

                                                            You can never be alone.

*

I have had that dream that has no face.

                        No mirror to dip my features through,
                                     no small unveiling fire in the woods.

                        If I wake to a curtain that blows in no wind,
                                                                                  no matter.

                        Everything comes of nothing, once.
                                                            I have had that mother
                        who calls in the middle of the night.

                        If only fear could be ground into a pill
                                                                        and swallowed.

                        The wind is blowing so hard in Pasadena,
                                                                        I hear it.

                        I have seen that wind blow a roof into cinders.
                        It’s fine, I say.

                                                 I am looking at the darkness.
                         Take the medicine. Take it, please.

                         I have raised love’s burden far too often
                                                                    and never enough.

                         I have lifted it, hook and mirror,
                                                                                to the air.

 

 

 

 

Bruce Bond is the author of twenty-three books, including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (Uuniversity of Michigan, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, University of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way, 2017), Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (L.E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017), Rise and Fall of the Lesser Sun Gods (Elixir Book Prize, Elixir Press, 2018), Dear Reader (Free Verse Editions, 2018), and Frankenstein’s Children (Lost Horse, 2018). Presently he is a Regents Professor at the University of North Texas.