"You remember this. No, you dreamed it. Your dream was of choking, and sinking down, and blankness. You woke from your nightmare and it had already happened. Everything was gone. Everything, and everyone – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, the cousins, the tables and chairs and toys and beds – all swept away. Nothing is left of them. Nothing remains but the erased beach and the silence.
There is wreckage. You didn’t see that, in your dream. A jumble of smashed years, a heap of broken stories. The stories look like wood and chunks of cement and twisted metal. And sad, a lot of sand. Why is it that they say the sands of time? You didn’t know that yesterday but now you do. You know too much to say. What can be said? Language turns to rubble in your throat.”
Then I came to an edge of very calm
But couldn’t stay there. It was the washed greenblue mapmakers use to indicate
Inlets and coves, softbroken contours where the land leaves off
And water lies plainly, as if lamped by its own justice. I hardly know how to say how it was
Though it spoke to me most kindly,
Unlike a hard afterwards or the motions of forestalling.
Now in evening light the far-off ridge carries marks of burning.
The hills turn thundercolored, and my thoughts move toward them, rough skins
Without their bodies. What is the part of us that feels it isn’t named, that doesn’t know
How to respond to any name? That scarcely or not at all can lift its head
Into the blue and so unfold there?
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.