have to go down
into cold earth like my father.
Gold light against shadow
black as onyx, cool as dew:
my favorite combinations.
have to leave me
and come back years later in a dream
just before morning,
supplicant's hands shivering
against thin glass.
I would have
to wake with your smell
and texture, cadence and timbre,
moving from bed to desk-
a cold chapel. My words melting
over your body like baptismal water won't
raise you through this blue chill. I could
tell you how precious, how absent.
I go out
before the sleepers can find me-
no light, no shine,
dead horse of the river goes by
under a dirty smear of sky,
factory windows still painted
over, green as pond scum.
Dead ash, red rose, go on in me:
nothing is cancelled or made better.
Where the alley opens to hot yellow light
there is room for one rose bush.
Mrs. Agnello brings me the rose of patience,
heaps the swollen graft tip,
tenders with bent fingers,
gives me crimson curled
like the first word in a baby's mouth,
the dew of morning.
"You have roses."
I keep saying, "You have roses."