White Swan    
    
    
Out into the river Exe children sail in kayaks    
their particulate voices easy in shouts and laughter—
word zigzags into word     
and gathers into cloth.    
    
It is easier for you to unravel them, speaking, as you do,     
their language.    
    
    
    
    
    
It was your paleness that struck me the other evening    
    
like a match lit—    
above us the ceiling catching fire.    
    
    
    
    
    
Again, the sky roils in gray:     
    
a glint within tumuli becomes a mirror or key and, below,     
hanging from the bright trees, each leaf a stray declaration—    
    
lifted by wind     
    
until the stem breaks loose from its lean connection,    
spinning to water, sidewalks, grass.    
    
    
    
    
    
White swans cluster at the iron bridge, and the thin walkway     
suggests a passage from here to an imagined and fatal land.    
    
    
            'Why is it now     
            impossible for us to meet—    
            we who were bound together    
            like the strands of a close woven basket    
            impermeable to water'    
    
    
    
    
    
Scraps of paper, swanlike, float up     
collecting color on their surfaces, the water shearing off, shuddering.    
    
    
Like Persephone I have left my mother behind.     
You, with your precision, would claim that she has left me,    
    
but her death was neither her choice nor mine.    
    
Still, she lives on, breathless, and I am caught between two lands,    
her kindness pursuing,     
    
the immediate air darkening into night.    
    
    
    
    
    
The city's fringe of lights wraps the edge of the hills, the woods night-dyed:     
     
its vivid trees of red and yellow dropped into black.    
    
A slurry of nouns tumbles across the page.    
    
The window resists opening, allows only a quick wintery chill.    
    
    
    
    
    
I have entered the silence around me like a space grown large     
and doorless, denser than fur    
or feathers thick at the breast—    
    
    
Not all silence is retraction,    
its intentionality allied with small cruelties;    
    
pathways lead in other directions.    
     
    
The coat you knit me was incomplete—    
I stand before you, head tucked beneath my one white wing.    
    
    
    
    
    
And the planet veers through space, resembles an afternoon in Los Angeles,     
when we fashioned marble paper on the patio: black, gray, red and gold tangled     
on the face of the pan's water, oily and unmixable,     
baffled until combed into pattern.    
    
Our fingertips stained, disappearing into the swirl covered surface.    
    
Decorative paper, good for nothing but wrapping the pages of a book.    
    
    
Swans glide by, their paddling feet invisible.    
    
    
    
    
    
How many iterations must be written    
—the curvatures of letters tracing a lip, fingers, the porch of the eye—    
turning thought and sense into glass, clear and divisive?    
    
I had forgotten the strength of silence—its mutability.    
    
I was busy with the details of a bracelet lost many years ago     
on a street filled with people walking north and south.    
    
    
    
    
    
And you?     
    
     
Love, too, is distant and fatal, requiring coins for the ferryman.    
A viaticum of words carefully saved—    
    
placed on the tongue    
    
    
     Jaime Robles 2011