of passage, tons of fitted stone
bearing down around us, we did not know
one day this would assume the status
of vision, and I would return
to that airless ascent and sudden fear
of burial closing my throat so tight
I could not breathe and my ears hammered.
Long lines of people pressed
ahead and behind, files of the dead
crawling slowly to a final chamber
where the coffin was empty,
the ceiling blackened stone on stone
as if the sky had never existed.
Now, I turn in the dark
to place my palm flat on your breast,
and in your sleep you moan
as if this breast untouched by surgeons
has found the other’s contagion.
But this is the best we can do, love,
the place called skin where nerves end,
bringing back to a distant interior
signs of desire and even hope.
Your chest rises and falls. You live.
Once again let’s make the long descent
through foul air, stooping toward
the desert and its light.