The Practice
1         The fish strain upward 
          like spirits 
          but can rise no further 
          than the surface.

2         The squirrel holds still.

3         The branch bends 
          toward the cat and the
          woman who look 
          up and down, down 
          and up, ready to start.

4         The sky pours down
          into the water.

5         The squirrel turns 
          on the branch.

6         If the water became air — 
          if the air became 
          earth, the earth fire, 
          the fire light, 
          the fish could 
          cross over and swim 
          in the 
          unpartitioned element 
          of desire. 

A Downwardness All Around Us
A slant, a slight giving way
of things ready to fall: blooms
listless already on their vines,

poised clumps of water far at sea,
a foot hinged at the precipice.
My mother’s voice falls down

the phone from Florida. She
doesn’t know what to do
and I don’t know what to do —

Falling voices, falling arms,
legs, faces, and I myself
poised in a glitter of air.

I would ask for an effortless
falling away like the
hours after midnight, sliding.
 
Falling
In my complete physical
the physician, a man

I had just met,
made me stand on tiptoe
and walk along a line.
I felt infantile.

I thought of the time
I tripped,
fell into the chair
in Dr. Fein’s office.
He told me
I wanted to fall
to lose control
to entrust myself
to him. What an ass.

Falling out a window
would be different.
I have wondered
what it would be like
to lift your arms
and leap down
through gentle air.

 

Imagine What It Would Be Like To Parachute
First the cramped waiting,
your folded legs, a close place

full of sweat and breath, a tick-tick
in your head till the door opens,

the sting of air and light. To fall
that fast, like a clumsy package

thrown from a bridge, before
you’re sure this contraption will

work, will save you from history,
before you bloom in the huge air.

 

Falling In Love Again, Wouldn’t It Be Grand?
The shadow of the small leaves
falls across our bodies,

the hallucination of
a mortal wound: we say it’s

the season. The leaves
remind me of your eyes, a pale

translucence that seems to
gather light. But I will not

cross over, will never enter
your absolving eye. It’s just

an April story. The boys
found her letter on his bed

and laughed. It read: I love
you more than life itself.