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Instead Of You Today One Black Mouse

Instead of you today
one black mouse.

It arrives the first
day of your departure.
It catches the corner
of my eye, my blood eye,
as you call it, and I
think at first that this
is only sunlight reflecting
from a window being closed
across the street but
my beating heart, faster,
holding my breath, tells
me it is a mouse that
precedes its smell in
the house, that is, if
it takes up residence,
and the curtains remain
permanently closed.

I do nothing but note
all this as briefly as
the flash, then return
to my grieving.


I see it true,
a mouse true, as
was and is the
affection I felt
and feel for you
but I do not want
to make this a
love poem unless
it is to a black
mouse claiming
vacated space


You must leave now,
black mouse of sorrow,
now formally named,
take up in another
residence. Do not
borrow my things,
do not move them
with your tail or tongue
or teeth on the table
top or underneath,
nor in the corner
play hide and seek
where I have once
again dropped the
blue accident of love,
he who has left how
he arrived, brown,
beautiful, smelling of
Indian spice, of rose
oil with herbs,
his long black hair,
his silken pockets
full of childhood
prayer carefully
wrapped for safe-
keeping against
the day of his glad-

Upon the altar then
do not, I plead, sleep
cradled in the god's arms
nor push my thinning
patience where the votive
candle burns for him whom
you seek to replace with
your delicate whiskers
and all your black fur
with webs upon of the one
spider who dwells behind
the jewel box, his gift
for me, his leaving, here
cling/brush against all
things in this dark place
now but do not let me
see it here where it is
I-not-he who is erased.

Is it your wish, then,
to bless me, black mouse?
to keep me company?


Today I suffer my
annual asthma of
the New Year only
it has arrived hard,
a little late, but
always sudden but
no surprise as you
have left me at the
same time as the
on-time lessening
of lungs down presses.
The mouse arrives to
remind that I am as
the remote air is,
rarefied, heavily alive,
that hunger grows in each
floret of the lungs
no matter the absence.
Or, no matter the absence,
there may always be an
apparent flash of light
from a near window
closing and opening,
little breaths beseeching
unseen hands, or hand,
striving for first or
second or third person
though there are only
one or two hands at
most and only one window
so far as I can see through
a curtain closed.

Mouse makes three.


This morning I open
the curtain which has
been closed since the
day before you flew away.
You had announced your
intention to leave the
first day we met, your
arrival with snow in
your eyes and nose. I
could only laugh, delight
really, at how you trembled
so cold, cold, and beautiful,
did I say already, how brown?
and allowed me to hold both
your hands beneath my shirt
to warm them. They were so
very cold, like late plums,
their outline even now perimeters
my skin, a tree grows there where/
which I proudly hold emboldened
to say, great, great, with
your sometimes mildness,
your sometimes wildness
now grown up, now flown.


But what I want to
report to you-not-here,
for the record, to be
read out into the snow
that has begun to fall
silently in the gutter,
is that I opened the
morning curtain and there
on the metal escape sat,
and still sits, a dove,
brown, beautiful, which
does not move at all,
when the curtains made
to move, and the day
rushes in without consent.
It, not the daylight
but the dove, just to
be very clear, cocks
only its head toward
movement and calmly

(I have successfully
resisted writing 'moves
and calamity')

sits shaped
like one pure tear.
Or pear. Both of which
share an 'ear'.

Suddenly, joy in me
flashes and I know the
dove for me has come.
And the mouse.


And so in spite of
barricades in doorways
seeking to prevent your
entrance fully into
my study, I allow you
to let yourself out
that door just as you
came in where/which-
ever it is that allows
you entrance without
wind or grain, no offering
of any kind to announce
yourself upon the premises,
a flash mistaken for
light of which/whose
image does not diminish
in portent or muse.


I sit now watching
the dove watch the
street below, the sky
above the tenements.
It does not shut its
eyes to flakes which
somehow do not in fall
though I recall now
how they manage to
find mine, even now
they beat upon the
glass trying to enter
eyes intent upon watching
the scene unfold upon
the page and within the
eyes of the Dove of Ages,
see what a thing it is
now already become
since childhood and
the backyard forest
sparkling, every surface
of everything covered
with ice clear, a sheer
skin which seems/seams to
move as I am moved/returned
in response to impertinent
snow to let more new world
come flashing in, and the
one-more-bird, a startle,
a cardinal red against all
the white, white, there were
many, coveys of them inordinate
in all the snow blind, too
much for a boy to bear, broken
eye-nerves, brittle sticks,
he kicks on his back crying
to make an angel his own to
be relieved of the too ordered
world, would be the unwanted,
unexpected child of things
shattered, his need for
constancy and same, beauty
a necessary addiction dependent
upon diction's canary eye and ear,
just to introduce another color
between mouse and meaning,
a chorus stunned into sound.


Here I now sing this
lament for the one who
has brownly flown.
And for the one who/that
has brownly perched so
still, still, on the metal
cold, a rust color, allowing
each flake its compulsion to
touch upon eye and rust.
And for black mouse who has
given much to me, an image,
to see of my sorrow a flash
of what, insistent, gnaws at
what now sits in me-the-escape,
in me-the-study with old friends
so constant, books and papers,
notebooks of many years' mice
and birds, the too few lovers,
waiting to see if the present
mouse is still within or has,
too, taken a flown lover's fresh
cue brownly and from the house
removed, without.


I must add here,

in praise of cold
beauty which cares
not whether one
suffers, cares not
that the mouse may
suffer, and the dove,

that the mouse,
its black fur,
is magnificence
very soft, it
appears without
shine as does the
ice shine in
severest beauty,
sear (now I know
the flash sure was
that of a tail, is
neither light nor
shadow, nor is an
occasion for blindness
as is the snow

or silence) .


It matters now
that I record this
in wet black ink
with an old quill
for the record
though the ink's
blackness, India ink,
ironically, and the
wet shine, are your
eyes which once again
are like the mouse,
though I do not wish
to compare them as
if you and the mouse
are the same like
someone's 'love is
a summer day' or 'a red,
red rose, ' snow up your
nose not withstanding,
for it, the day, the
eyes, yours, my house,
is now not to be mine
alone deposed before
the harsher winter,
nor is my heart to be
ever compared though
it wearies me to speak
of heart and love in the
same breath's poem which
does not, asthmatic, conform
to received form or line or
convention and tone as does,
say, a black mouse, just to
compare, conform to its own
convention, or shape swift
constancy and need, insistent,
unthought with not a care or
mind for, well,
(the better) ,

with no mind at
all (to speak of it
again) :

The dove perhaps
on the window is



The song is sung
or flinging itself
outwith from above
as snow, the musical
bar is the cold grate
the page upon which
the one true music
note rests, may,
singing silently
itself into itself
singing the world,
even this of the
mouse, your absent
eyes here, about,
my passivity against
the rhythms of chest
ice-rimed (cannot
write the heart again)
adding gutter music
drops, the bells drip
ringing there as you
have/were a bell or
bell-like announcing
the end at the beginning

it feels, though I was forewarned,
slipped swiftly away taking-with
a number of days and all my nights,

the wet black ink
winks upon the page

and the song is
instead of you today
one black mouse.

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