I thought I knew how it should be done:
I’d go by gloaming when the moon is milk
down to the ivy where the wood is rotted
and three bridges are clotted in spider silk.
I’d say, O, you strong-man, you: with your
forked-leaf, dark-leaf, your strangle-vine,
your leaves shaped like the devil’s palm
and the mark He leaves behind. I am not
afraid of you, Ivy-man. I’ve come to take.
(And you, not ivy, you: Aren’t we holy palmers,
you and I? Aren’t we true-as-stars, true-as-
maps-and-navigation? I’ve charted seas
by what is ours. I’ve jiggered recalcitrant
compasses, fickle instruments, I’ve watched
them re-learn to sing–)
I’d wrench the twisting vine up at the root
and throw the strangling thing over my shoulder,
triumph! Ha! And braid it into a bucket,
cover it. Then, my dearest
friend, I’d be on time, to walk into the circle light
of the ashes fire. This is where my dead-parent
my-dead-sibling my-dead I’d fling myself
body-of-my is immolated, is burning, burned, bre
aking, bone-fragments all burnished red.
And I’d collect the ashes, siftless specks left after,
collect them in a sieve-of-smoke, collect them
in my fraying sleeve, my parched cup, and O how *fine*:
sea-spray could not be this fine.
I’d like to collapse in the white blossom: bloom,
under Hellish orange, under shifting tangerine.
I knew how it could be done, o my lover,
first the ivy, then the incinerator–
There’d be the bones to collect and store:
as with ashes, in a stoppered container,
and they shan’t go wandering
off the road again,
And after I had the ivy,
after I had the ashes,
and my spindle,
I’d breathe the air into this yarn myself,
and it would lump, until my breath
was serene, was peaceful, even,
and then I’d have the yarn,
and knit for you a scarf.
I’m here, I’d say, I’m here,
and you’d know.
It wouldn’t be difficult.
It wouldn’t be hard.
But I think I’m still in the ivy,
up to my wrists
or my neck.