in memoriam Elliott Paul Orr June 13, 1970–April 4, 2002

1

In the forests of the eye:

            a flame.

In the codicil of noons:

            a chasm.


You listened your way in.


Angels rose up

faceless from your shroud.


Still, by just a thread

of your disappearing,

I hang.

 

2

A leaf clangs in the stillness.


A beat of wings.


What dark thought stirs these ripples?


What pale hand

smears my shadow to infinity?


Return     unto thy rest

Return     unto thy

unto

un

 

3

It is always near.

We eat together in the noon-dark.


Rib to rib we fall asleep

at the edge of the abyss.


When it breathes

it stirs the veil.


When it brushes my arm

the world breaks:


the heaped shards point only

to themselves


like moments flashing on & off:


now here :: nowhere

 

4

Stone: How wounded you sprout

from the pale seed.


Branches: How darkly you hang

over the crisis.


Night: How sweetly you descend

into the blurring earth.


Moon: How slowly you climb

through the pin-pricked absences.

 

5

Beneath the white paradox

you held your breath.


At your feet

the earth was trembling.

It was almost blue


as you waded in

& the light

closed over you


& destruction on destruction

churned in your wake.

 

6

These hours, razor-thin.

These words, plunging

into the void.


The darkness foams with images.

The gust of leaves.

The red gash.


Drops of nowlessness

slide along the blade.

 

7

Let us go back

to the beginning.


(Now is etched in blood.)


Let us sew up

the wound of time,

 

& dwell henceforth

in twilight,

& never speak


a word.


(Not You.)


(Not I.)

.


(a beat of wings––)

 

8

Tears:

morsels

    for the lions at the hidden gate

blazes

    on the forking path

coins

    in the fountain of goodbyes

windows

    through which you look back

darkly

    into the world

 

9

For you:     the shapeliness.

For you:     the clearing.

For you:    the poem,

cracking its shell in the dark.


    And yet, how can it be

we are here already

in the past?


How can it be

I waited these distances?


    And what is this,

rising from soot

like a ragged wing?

 

10

In the pain-sealed moment,

you called out:

        the world was gone.


And what was I doing,

still scraping at the silence,

still listening for this?

    this?

this?


And what if it breaks?


And what if human tears

are not enough to bear you up?

 

11

The spark, the blinding flash

to silence.

Darkness.

Dreams of lead.

. . . . .

Somewhere far above

you hammer away


& I dig timeward


guided by shocks.

 

12

Banished from the meanings,

your feet cut their own for miles

through the snow-lit dark,

through the ravenous night,

the terrain of a wound.


And when, finally, you

arrived, naked & trembling,

at the frontier of zero, 

how silent it was,


how beautiful,

as flake-by-flake

all was forgiven.


Only, far off,

a house,


drifting toward dawn.