“If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea….” — Psalm 139
We rise in a banking curve of morning’s pure velocity
over fallow fields and grids of neighborhoods,
over ponds painted with slick scum oozing
— from the oil pans of countless sunken cars,
— from punctured sacks of toxic trash,
— from fleshless graves of abandoned murders,
of missing persons filed in muck.
We rise embraced by first-class armchairs,
pondering the crisply printed histories
of yesterday’s most meaningless events.
We rise up above our lives and lies,
above, alone, away, alas, good-bye
to families and to friends, to all terrestrial ties.
Our very cellulars, by strict law silenced
so that our murmurs not disturb
the delicate electronics on which so much
at this tremulous moment depends
that we dare not think on it, and so select
music of our choice from mid-heaven’s jukebox.
We rise in the faltering dark
into the pale flicker of a cosseted sun
slatted in flashes through fingers of cloud,
up into the white blood of the sinewed sky,
and so our day and world slips by.
We rise up to where all breath is snow,
so far that all above becomes below,
up until the sky is seen as vapor,
smeared white on blue construction paper
and framed by dark remorseless space.
We rise up until from Earth we seem
only a fading gesture, some echoed trace
of fog, distinguished only by our direction,
out over arid ancient seas, past all reflection.
And still we rise, our lush ascent
powered by ageless diatoms’ descent
into the ooze between the fossiled stones,
the shattered crypts of shells and bones;
above the planned sere autumn fields
of pasture, silage, grain that yields
the bread we break in this, our floating world.
And still we rise, resurrected,
through the thinning strands of sky reflected,
until the edge of day the stars deny,
where all the worlds we knew slip by,
tangled in a mapless maze of rivers,
our passing but a whisper that shivers
the dream of a drowsing owl, a silver splinter
caught in a facet of the eye of winter,
and, unremarked or written, quickly glides
beyond the reach of records or of guides.
We rise until at last held still
in that blue hand which grasps all sky,
awake within our tube of paper steel,
our long ascent levels and we slide
onto a gleaming lake of granite ink,
reflecting now the empty gaze of God,
beyond warm hands and done with Earth.
Never now to stagger or to slip
back into the shadows and the rain,
back into the warm musk of the day,
but, keen as an iron blade
touched to the tongue,
we sail forever on these slate seas
out to the far edge of imagine,
and on, and still on beyond,
into the heart of the stars,
into the silence of their song.