Despair

by Tom Swift

Where? In the black trees that lay down and drown here?
In the drowned clouds? — and no one to hold them back.
Rhododendron, the night never ends. A still-life and a
way to get home again. A moss-dark photograph turned
holy in his memory.

It’s anyone against the wind tonight. In the eyes of a child
who looks up at us from the bottom of a well, or across
the table, the uninvited guest taking the oranges we
intended to eat.

In these very hands. A window of the soul already open to
the sea. An hour outside of itself. A name that’s repeated
over and over until it’s just noise.

River of ashes. River and flame, the small vibration we set in
motion there. I wouldn’t know how to find you or
anyone.

Searchlights and choppers. With cats on the rooftops and moths-
turned-to-dust on the sill. Pillar, and bell tower. Wall, and
earlier than that, the peaceful cities.

Calm, without talking. In our oldest clothes. From the
balcony, on the fire escape — just leaning on the railings
above the flood streets.

-Ralph Angel, “Months Later,” Twice Removed (2001)