for Henri Michaux
She writes: the air here changes
like a face in a mirror.
In the flight of moths at dusk
we see unknown primary colors.
We have no word for that radiance.
A starling with dusty eyes
camps in the corona of the elm.
Leaves have begun to drift down,
finding niches, alcoves, plateaux,
delays in midair—their shadows in dust
rise, reluctant and trembling.
You might say: cyclone, tsunami, fire.
But the shifts are too small to see.
Blue sheen over a bee’s wing
like a cataracted lens.
A grasshopper hesitating,
a cricket plunging on.
We still find shade in the garden
but our nakedness scares us
as if we were touching
the pupil of the eye.
There is no more space between words.
They run together in a wall of text.
Yesterday a boat set sail for Altair,
pitch-caulked, loaded below the waterline,
a boy straining at the rudder,
a girl bent over a green scuffed oar.
Why Altair, I asked,
why not run to high ground
now that the sea is rising?
Simple, a child said. You can get there
just by holding your breath.
There is no sequence anymore.
Once we leveled a foundation
and then framed the roof.
Now a nail here, a hammer blow there,
in the night sky.
And you, friend?
Do you still fill your notebook
with numbers and erase them?
Is there shelter in the blank page?