I learn things by myself, which is why
it takes so long. I’m asking you
to be patient. That’s not asking much.
I learn by myself, learn to cross the village,
it’s not every day I recognize you
in the timberwork of the roof,
the builders’ sweat alight in the air even now.
The river is sluggish here, the lake is asleep,
one’s step less heavy, but I’m no longer
convinced I’ve read it right: instructions
for painting a woodpecker’s wings in red
and black and red, and how to cast a spell upon
the ankles of a pregnant girl. I don’t know
nor want to know her name, and maybe that’s
the reason I can’t breathe, but I won’t forget
the way she makes me feel. Did I really
read it right? Okay, I accept these signposts
in the humid moss, in the backbone curving
throughout every season, in scarlet shells
cracked apart at the feast to which I’m called.
Yes, this I accept. But where in the language
should I look for you, when the language
is unworthy of what you are? It might be
that you assume a common form, such as love,
or maybe you’re something awful down the road
that will, after all, come to pass.