A day so happy. Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no one worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me. In my body I felt no pain. When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.
It was a picture I had after the war. A bombed English church. I was too young to know the word English or war, but I knew the picture. The ruined city still seemed noble. The cathedral with its roof blown off was not less godly. The church was the same plus rain and sky. Birds flew in and out of the holes God’s fist made in the walls. All our desire for love or children is treated like rags by the enemy. I knew so much and sang anyway. Like a bird who will sing until it is brought down. When they take away the trees, the child picks up a stick and says, this is a tree, this the house and the family. As we might. Through a door of what had been a house, into the field of rubble, walks a single lamb, tilting its head, curious, unafraid, hungry.
Go, friends, quickly to your tasks and wives. This night I have to discover the clouds– talk to the galaxies. My parents are old and the road is a serpent full of ambitions. And what remains of me after sleep is sunlight entering like a nun into church. After dreams get through with me I shall devour books, sing arias, walk on snow, have arguments with darkness, and crawl into the corner of the sea listening to the tingle of bells. What remains of me after sleep may be a corpse. So send out word:
Salinas is on his way– quoting verses from the Bible, making a mad dash through the night, making sure everything is secure.
Raven hates myth, unless he gets a piece of the action. He’s perfected the shrug, carries a knife, kicks ass when he needs to. When Raven shaves night, he leaves shadow. A trick he learned by dancing.
Bored, Raven headed south, Buenos Aires. Wandered the markets, the mixed-blood arrabales the brothels. Cocked his head, sniffed. Smelled meat on the edge of spoiling, the bandoneonists drinking red wine, making love to their instruments. He watched the card games, the emigrants and compadritos drifting in from the country, their drinking, feuds, knives. Raven thought about wounds and longings. He listened to the ocean weight of darkness sifting centuries of largo and eros, listened to dogs barking in the night.
Raven blew a smoke ring around the moon, watched dancers riffing Africa off the music of the arrabales, and when he was ready Raven caught the tip of the dance in his beak, tugged and slowl Raven pulled out Tango
He twined the dark blue current of sex around the man’s arm winding like a snake around his partner’s waist—and just like that Raven caught the dancers about to break in two
2. The Marriage Tango
The old couple is dancing. Solemn, worn confederates of the tango. Their bodies are thick with age, their feet callused yet quick. This is an old story, like water, like flying. Still, each time they dance it, something new. The young lovers set out in a raft at the edge of the ocean, reckless, rehearsing their new names like children writing in the night air with burning sticks
They don’t yet know neither the ocean nor the sky cares about love or secrets or fidelity.
How they are bold with each other. How like a kite she agrees to be led. How he learns not to be afraid of her. How the magnet of desire pulls in and at them. How dangerous they become for each other. How close they sail to the edge of the flat world, how they long for the flying plunge. How they learn to read each other’s weather. How they bear children, work and weep and laugh. How they count the casualties. How they make love: How they sleep each night for decades spooned around each other, wake to tell their dreams. How they carry on. How they haunt each other.
How strange to find themselves old and still dancing quick and slow under the crooked smile of the moon. How they sail closer and closer to death. How, somehow, their raft becomes an ark,
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”