Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Country of No Nations

If I may
It is the weekend
I feel the pull of the watershed
I wonder if you know
Where all these people are going
The way they seem to be
Trying to escape themselves
Leave no evidence of passage
In this matrix of entrances and exits?

I ask because there is no one else
I ask because there has to be
Another to ask
I ask you to return me
To the sutures of space and time
The borders where we imagine—
One side of a saturated winter field—
Our flesh ends and something else begins—
Traffic, magpies, the bridge
Across the river, the barely seaworthy
Boat of the moment, conversations
That do not go anywhere
But signify our phatic presence
One to another our shared
Vulnerability open to love and harm
The fact that we are all at once
Singular and plural

I have long found the address
The most comfortable mode
Of poetic speech—ambiguously open
To the all and any of life
But it is in fact addresses and comfort
Or the lack thereof
That is most on my mind at this time
As mists and clouds hover sexually
And I move out of doors
With the lamp of a book held aloft in one hand
Taking time to watch and record
Small flocks of geese flying
Both east and west
Across this wet land
Their numbers and linear formations
And one solitary eagle circling
And cutting the coarse sky
With its piercing and broken cry
That I want a special name for
It is so indescribable
So unlike any other bird’s call
So ugly in its lack of proportion
To the winged body’s effortless movements
I call it pinioning because
That comes straight to mind
And sounds right without knowing its meaning

When I check I see that pinioning
Is the act of surgically removing
The pinion joint of a bird’s wing
To prevent flight
And suddenly all the flight
That soars and sweeps round comes into view
Flight from war and drought and the thousand
Human harms structure inflicts we are flying
The unzipping of space from time
Separation of people from place via property
To let the world be a blue garment
Blow up and away from our
Outstretched arms
And I see Ai Weiwei lying
Alone on the beach on Lesbos
In black and white self-sundered portrait
I don’t know that this is the right thing
I would rather
The pulling of the living
From the corpulent waters
Than a thousand images
From the galleried world
The sweep and welcome of winds
Drift to haven and beacon and cove
Where you are waiting, Belonging

I have often thought of you
As a decoy place
Abstract affect at a liberal limit
But see now there is material capture
In the release of your idiosyncratic words
Your voice in the wind birds ride or
Ships tack full of people you would welcome
Train stations, ferry terminals
Even airports have their capacity to love

I see it in your eyes
Grey like the sky over this flat land
You have to be unconditional
Or your conditions are simply
That one asks and another provides
One needs and another gives
And the world has not been carved
So to prevent this despite
How it is made to seem

It’s you
You we are longing
For welcome and refuge
That is the need of us all
That is yet transience
That is yet fleeting
That is moment’s spatial desire
That is this migrant life on this migrant earth
Sought in the cavern night
Of each human heart
Its land that is not its land
But the land we all seek in our
Flight and our throwing ourselves
Ashore or into the sea

Be long
Be long on this earth
We whisper in greeting and parting
Travellers between origins and destinations
We neither make nor own
Be long
So we may have
Many days together
The soft trip of our words
Vagabond from our mouths
Out to each other’s closeness and return

Then there remains just this
Before I turn home
Which is my temporary shelter
And pretend permanence
That we all need but do not all have
And privilege has long
Been the removing of the joints
From the wings of outstretched others
Just this just this
In the grey sky of birds
Flat land of water’s nearness
Train whistle and highway curve
I can just make out the moving lines
Of your borderless arms
That are horizon
Sweeping everyone in need
Of your infinite embrace
Into the country of
No nations
Just this just this
A moment in space
That carves out the shape
Of our indefinite belonging