Robert Vivian

Other Darks

How to listen for a poem before dawn, how to touch the sacred night air and let it touch you, softly, softly, oh, deep caress, how to wait for a word then a line then another, oh, over and over again, how to listen and how to wonder and the poem coming of itself, coming because it is wild and beautiful, coming because it is coming because it is coming and you know the deep shudder, the body not even its own but on loan from some mysterious creator who loves the body, loves even more the soul, this one and that one and how they are all truly one, my soul and your soul, dear hummingbird, dear 4:30 a.m. in the dark in the woods and these trembling fingers, how I am coming now, how I am henceforth and always your clumsy plaything, your ballerina, your deep sweet deepest night of pity and scrawled black ink, your racing poem in the dark and dear brother-sister poet writing somewhere in other darks, other kingdoms of loneliness and noun and verb (Who are we? Will this yearning ever end?) I reach out to you as we run to the sounds where we were born and my grandfathers’ hands overtake the moons of my fingernails as I flare and flare and flare again, coming because I am broken, coming because I am ecstatic, coming so hard and fast and always I am salmon spawning my very last egg as my skin rots off my body until I am nothing but voice but, oh, for the clear seeing of these inner eyes, this paradise of deep listening, of crickets playing in the dark before dawn before one page then another, poem I say and echo, poem as the last hope of this world, last tenderness, the last fey word or gesture and the whole earth a poem, a gasping, a lit candle in the dark flickering in the window before it dear precious lashes once more with fury and great ecstatic dancing and goes out, goes out, little wisp, little smoke, little figurine of longing rising briefly into the sighing summer air I know how to disappear, how to never be just this one body ever again.




Robert Vivian’s next book, a collection of dervish essays, is called Immortal Soft Spoken and will be published in early 2018.