"Birds of Darkness Inhabit the Night, Stars on Their Foreheads"
by Beckian Fritz Goldberg
I pissed away the day, beautiful as it was. The moon came,
a quarter moon in the sheerness of evening when solid things
take on a delicate inkiness. Maybe your life is better. Maybe
it has consequences. Though I’ve called my mother
every night since he died. Honestly, some nights
I’m tired. I don’t want to talk to anyone. Grief
is such work. At night I can’t tell which star
goes with which when I look for constellations.
I didn’t used to give a shit about constellations. I’ve grown sadder,
so now I look at everything a long time. There’s a channel
on TV that you can tune in to any time to see a live satellite
picture of the earth from space. Here’s it’s channel 287.
Sometimes it’s mostly glare; but at 7:28 p.m., Tuesday
October 12th its white-maned azures hold, still as childhood,
above the dark Americas, and us. Is anyone else watching—
there are no car chases and no pretty girls, just a planet
in the place it belongs. Suffering is not important. Someday
standing here amazed you did not die at twenty-five, your genius
misunderstood , you’ll say, So here we are old friend, and you’ll mean
you. After that, a cigarette, or whatever your poison. See,
a yellow gondola has drifted ashore the shoulder
of the mountain like a quarter moon. Sometimes fancy
is true. Now you say you can see it, you say not exactly.
Night around you like a black perfume. Remember that?
Suffering is only what we call it. Nothing abates it and
nothing has no name and yet we are awake
and yet the flashing jacamars roam Mexico, the wing’s green
luminescence & long stun of afternoon traffic that’s going
nowhere but just wants to go. Here sing Goddamn, like
the man said. Tonight my mother tells me the dog has started
sleeping in the empty side of the bed. You could search your
whole life and never find an ending more simple
if you want to sleep tonight: I got up finally
and I pissed the day away, had lots of coffee, saw the bobcat
through the window, the one that’s been hanging around,
nonchalant and brown and wondered why just his ears
just the tail’s tip were marked with black and white.
When the universe took the time. I went from window
to window making sure I got a good look. Bought
some crap for dinner. After, I walked outside
and watched the slow stars rise from the airport
to the south. I saw they were bigger than the mind. Of what
this convinced me, I couldn’t say. The sky like
the lowing iris in a flame, all that through and blue
and through. I mean the staring which is feeling.
You know. As sure as you are never here
no more. OK, I piss away most the night too
getting nowhere, sometimes just outside the door
where the world goes vast & the secretive
desert mice run out into the spotlight the light’s
cast in the gravel near the steps. I will never have my life.
I will never hold it in my arms. Beautiful is that was—
the breast of Asia’s shining up through the clouds at 2:15 a.m.
the satellite shot of its own foot thrust out in weightlessness
and we see from an inhuman distance down the dark
the lone insane living jewel—
and still ask why. Will someone tell us. Oh you,
you, you, my grief and lovelessness, little husband dog
stars, and you. The first pink light
stays low and lights the bushes black and fitting
back into their crooked forms. Here we live in hours, that’s
all we know. I felt like doing nothing. And all day
the satellite gazed back through its tripod arms
as if we’d already left the earth behind. A few billion years
from now, they say, as our sun dies we’ll have to. Or
have learned to harness the gravity of asteroids and move
the planet. Move sky bird empty bed and all. Anyone
who has reason to believe we’ll still be here by then please
stick a knife through your sorry heart. And talk to me.