Kansas City/Paros. November 2005.
Not every night is different
most begin with much the same choreography
a geometry of sky folding closed and Sound
thrown out of a day’s dance with the wind
when Silence cuts in.
Stars pick out jasmine’s shadow negative against
their black matting, their paper backing, where
tonight it seems Orion aims his dart on a course
straight through the red heart of Mars and into
the moon’s sickly face for a trick shot.
As that pierced moon you have moved through
vast darkrooms bigger than this ocean-mirror sky
carrying photographs to be finished
on the process you invented in the bath one night
that the Kodak folks finally shook you down for. Tonight’s
moon would not brighten these gaping vault closets with
futile red lights and no poster on the bulwark walls
of this shadowbox could reduce the dimensions.
Rooms too big and black for living or falling asleep in,
walls too high for leaping, but you have a chance
to throw your hat over and you see that
the guests walk with the stiff steps of the uninvited
before you realize you arrived right on time
fit the dress code on the placard to a tee
but when trying to leave looked for nickels or dimes lost
in the funnel to the sewer line beneath the carpet
laid by man for dogs and nuns treading separately
past the case that locks the dirty negatives and
the chemicals. (You should not breathe these.)
You thought your lab partner stood near the other end’s exit
to pull on the string with the clothespins and things
that aren’t pictures yet hanging. “Why won’t you pull
the line away from me? I can’t push it.
Are you reeling now?
Can you hear me? Is it so dark that you’re deaf?
If so you won’t have noticed the noise that hides you.
Or are you raiding some other pantry?” (that will be
such broad blackness just like this one
with all the same mundane dunking, dousing,
pressing, printing, hanging, cutting machines.)
The door you must find by feeling and no
lightswitch sits near the jamb it’s in
But finally you get out as you got in, but thinking
as you push your head through the exit that
These marbles are plaster made forgetful
massaged with chisels until depicting
just the one thing but with the advantage of angles
in the light tonight’s moon shines they define subtlety.