A Custom of Mourning
I wore blood on my clothes for three days.
I used my initials, never my name.
I would not cut the grass
nor make repairs
no matter an outbuilding
or mechanical failure.
I did not eat eggs
as they are a sign of life
yet grew the border on my stationery
to three inches wide,
vastly restricting the space to write in.
I read not the news
nor old books
nor the backs of cans.
Everything was heated haphazardly.
As I had vowed,
the mirrors were covered with beautiful cloth.
My hair grew to fathoms
and the soles of my shoes
were made of leaves.
And when at last the thirty years did pass,
I too hated the end of summer,
The shadow of the earth is bright enough for me
The self-denial of the last Beatle is enough for me
Something down, down in the terrestrial is terribly bright
In the depths of my clandestine there is brightness
A shame-faced look at the desolate glows
The shattering of a brilliant illusion is bright enough for me
A yellow finch is enough brightness
Boys of summer wood are too
Errors that a spider might make are bright for me
A hemidemisemiquaver is bright
The newness of the third time too is bright
Objects of mostly German origin, brightness!
A wild guess is bright for certain
Off-white indeed bright
Ludwig was certainly bright but
A little leaf caught under my boot is bright enough for me
An epsilon is always bright
This comfortable bra is tight enough for me
My successful effort to obtain the assistance of a tug was bright
The article most required by the deceased in her life after death—
What’s negligible is shining
The bump of amativeness and the bump of approbativeness—
Both bright enough for me!
After all, a night person is bright enough for me
Sort-of-not-really is bright enough for me
A minor unspecified human ailment?
I wish that I had duck feet
The moon was so bright
The long lonely pointless way home was lovely
Thanks for the fruitcake
I dropped the cherries in the snow
Into whose confidence have they wandered?
I think it was Saturday my mother was
pregnant with me she could not find
a place to eat the restaurants were crowded
it was the Saturday before Christmas
so she bought a meatpie some fries
a carton of milk from a kiosk
and I became a person.
What if all the cows ate all the grass
and there were no grass?
What if the women were ground
to a Turkish grind for some worthy cause
and there were no women? Without grass
and without women, what could be made?
What could be added to the world?
And the many cows munching in it,
the sound of their manifold munching,
would be as pervasive as a stream
in the not-too-distant.
I am nailed fast by little bolts like these.
A world of worried babies without grass,
without women, what would that mean?
You can guess the rest of the story,
how this dear foolish little bit of
Christmas shopping made me lonely,
so lonely even the carton of milk
failed to cause my cracked heart
to sprout a little wheat.