All images are by Russian artist Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (Кузьма Петров-Водкин, 1878-1939)
Life on Mars (Another New Year’s Day)
Words for the wind were filled with trees
I was filled with a feeling I couldn’t name
I knew I would never be seeing her again: the girl with the shy tuck to her head, in the folkloric
In the aftermath I found myself in the mirror of ambivalent desire
Stripped of all continuous nature
The moon glowed blue through the tears in the clouds
The moon glows blue like Orpheus’ severed head
The tundra swans bark like dogs in the night
Or dogs bark like tundra swans
I have lost again the fluidity of tears
I am once more the child filled with unformulated words
A loony-tune torn apart by the trees
Or I found myself a stranger in my own bed
I couldn’t see or I couldn’t hear
Or the porous casement of my skin rippled by sleep
That old, lunar, crazy-making sea
I couldn’t recognize the sounds inside myself as thoughts
Their sloshing waves, the garbled stuttering tides, syllabic particles
loosed from the tack of grammar
Or I wake to find myself walking upright, a vertical figure in a horizontal field of burnt and broken trees
A walk takes shape, a walk takes the walker’s shape
How to pull this apart, part the air, the wind from the air, the trees from the trees?
Again the moonlight
Again the moon
The moon like Orpheus’ severed head volleyed by the sway of the boughs
I send my voice ahead of me along the trail
My voice carves the shape of a thought in the dense, viscous air
We fall redirecting evolution’s course
We fall toward one another, lift off and fall
We are the televised reunion of twins separated at birth
We locate ourselves in relation to the tundra swans
Is this life on the wet red moors?
Or I wake to find myself, my husband asleep beside me, breathing softly,
his hand resting at the small of my back
What opera is this?
Who turned the tides?
Where is the moon I know?
The unicorn? The virgin’s lap? The cloister? The frozen citadel?
Where is the girl with the slate-gray eyes?
Is this the soft delusion of a dream?
What are these glittering sparks?
Is this life on Mars?
Marks etched into the strand, the slate-gray margins of a Mars-Black sea?
Is this a marriage, a chronicle, a walk against the wind, a tender conversation
made private by the white noise of the surf, the whorl of screaming gulls?
Where is the first fine dust of snow, the dusty moths, the wind-slurred words?
Are these the straining ropes that moor the dream to its source?
What is the source?
Where is the first snow of the first day of the first breath of the world?
What day is this? What hour of the day?
Where is the snow?
How does it all turn out?
I woke to a blizzard
No words can describe it that haven’t described a blizzard before: white quiet cold
I opened the shutters unto a void of white, everything blotted out, a white hole
sucking in the sound of human enterprise
I walked into the white quiet void, I walked toward the subway
There were skiers cutting through the snow, children tumbling very quietly into the banks
Dogs nosing at the drifts, steam pluming from their red, panting mouths
Music by Asa, “The Way I Feel”