Her body is a puzzle my hands have solved
so many times: this fits here, that fits here.
Long-legged waterbird, given to sudden flights
of laughter, her slight bones vibrate like chimes.
Painted talons, pliant feathers,
fragrant shelter of tawny wings.
Many nights, I call out, knowing she will not come...
she has no master. But when she is here,
she is here and it is now. I spread our bed of petals,
draw the curtains, thank the winking stars.
We stood in groups of twos
on the sidewalk outside the bar,
talking, smoking, watching traffic and each other,
one quiet old guy by himself looking at the moon,
when a quick motion caught our eyes
as the girl pounced onto her boyfriend,
shimmied up his tall torso,
squeezed her legs around his waist,
clasped her arms around his neck,
pressed her face into his hair.
If I were a prophet I'd say
a burst of light surrounded them
like a glory. Like revelation, like satori,
we were all converted on the spot:
for the rest of our lives we'd wait
for such a rapture, such a wrapped her,
our bodies suddenly made heavy
with bone and flesh not our own.
I caught the old man staring, dumbstruck,
until he collected himself,
went back to looking at stars.
At first the boyfriend took it like a puppy's exuberance,
continued the conversation, as though that leap,
still rebounding in our chests,
was nothing special. But his girl did not unlatch,
tightened her arms and legs around him
until who knows what was let loose inside,
and he hugged her back, with a shy smile at us
as if embarrassed by his riches.
Half sewing machine, half tank,
it was the closest thing I knew to a holy relic.
Elders fetched it from the closet
like the ark of our covenant with the past.
First came the ghosts of those who lie in the ground,
jerky simulacra dancing to staccato chatter.
Then came the famous line-up of the nine cousins,
four in diapers, three crying, all with chicken pox.
Then here we are, recognizable at last,
watching dolphins leap in a Florida amusement park ...
O maker of humanity in its image,
O moving art,
you made light of us all.
Annette my South Ossetia, I want you back,
the way it was when your borders lay
within mine. Marianne my Taiwan,
what can I do to bridge the gulf between us,
to sing again our common language? And Cassie,
O Cassie, my dearest Kosovo, if you returned
I'd make your face my emblem, your name my anthem.
All my cherished, missing, breakaway countries,
listen to me. I am a failed state, humbled,
crumbling, and I want you back, your furnaces,
your orchestras, your stampedes.