Poetry

Aphorisms on the Origins of Love

          For the stranded refugees
          of Nogales, Sonora

Ours is a wet planet, red in tooth and claw.
Here, we came before the science of names.

Turn where we may, windows of souls
glow from the dawn of longing.

We made homes on a plain of river oxbows,
seat of sorcery for slow childhoods,

shadows of mountain, nooks of cliff,
table-land strewn with every geology,

where swans’ wings defy gravity in rampant play
over marsh dusted with down, cradled in clay.

In years of daylong
mornings, newborn light
in a striking of
blue glass on wooden ledges,
rising hoodoo-spindles
born of caressing wind,
ages of lesser heartache
passed like our chosen pain.

Horizons span the mind’s canvas,
we rose to stake this claim.144

Each child knows we loved
in every lifetime,
perhaps the only way
love could crack a pupa
of sullen instinct —
fully, in a single beam,
whomsoever the other
may have been
— brows, mouth, glance,
immortal words
or chance anecdote,
through lost epochs,
or winged moments.

Off we set on journeys, before slow-walkers noticed.
Quick or endless, none can promise.

Who among us could get far alone?
What has our species, single-minded, yet initiated?

Can we stride upright, an unseen path, at unique points in time?
Have we translated passions into a true design?

Yet on every tilth, a way runs out before us
as mesas, eye-dry, proffer laden riches.

This is the riddle
wrapped in song
we learned
not to try
too hard to solve.
For don’t we all,
one day pause,
parched and lonesome,
footsore, loathsome,
at a dusty crossroads,
a rocky ford,
or by the ruin
of some mythic church?
And if our days
are anywhere recorded,
that book must affirm
in plainest statement
that we spawned
what bears the name
of love
in spite of onslaught,
drought and twister,
migration and disaster,
in spite of mob rule
that scatters every sect,
shatters every tool,
spreads the epidemic
of fresh obsession,
fever, travesty,
and puts the lie
to kinder history.

So we loved us,
whensoever,
as at this moment
water fills its many forms
and seeks its every level.

How can it be more or less than what is fated,
matter or energy, within our knowing, never once negated?

If two or more may be annealed as one,
what miracles await, yet to be done?

Across these earthly plains and shining spaces,
lush freshets and ebbing tides,

wise persons seek it still:
our deity of many faces.
145
And if our days
are anywhere recorded,
that book must affirm
in plainest statement
that we spawned
what bears the name
of love
in spite of onslaught,
drought and twister,
migration and disaster,
in spite of mob rule
that scatters every sect,
shatters every tool,
spreads the epidemic
of fresh obsession,
fever, travesty,
and puts the lie
to kinder history.
So we loved us,
whensoever,
as at this moment
water fills its many forms
and seeks its every level.
How can it be more or less than what is fated,
matter or energy, within our knowing, never once negated?
If two or more may be annealed as one,
what miracles await, yet to be done?
Across these earthly plains and shining spaces,
lush freshets and ebbing tides,
wise persons seek it still:
our deity of many faces
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Celtic Cross