Between the Buildings


Drills screamed in the grey hands of men
suspended up among the wires

Bulbs flicking darkness
to the strung-up houses and floors

Wafted up—the jiggering strains
of motors, hulking canopied beds

Rattling with dimension
the worker's roars—

It was all in gear when I slipped between
two buildings for quiet, all unceasing above

When the sudden woman
bursting out from between the walls—

Flogged me—two black marbles gleaming
and a wild intensity:

A face of overripe biologies,
distended cortex of a brain, two fists

And chops having hungered in the hollows.
The gears above kept on churning noise—

I thought for a moment I could hear
the black sod buried under everything,

Its dampening breast
too deep

To take up my sounds:
Lung-struck, smack of limbs, red wind

Instrument of neck—
all crunched into the steam's

Hiss, noisy brass, the small wirings
singing like locusts from every panel:

Death came
unobtrusive, scarcely noted.

What could I do but wander into its silence?
For the city rose around me

it was there before my birth
men building it even as I left it:

The towers leaning toward me. The fat walls
gorged on their own enamel histories—

Between those devouring clutches:
my mind

streaming out, my mind imagining
more than the mind could imagine on its own,
the mind spilling out of abstraction,
the timeless turning, turning—

The wind entering my body
so at last I could taste the Earth
The crude salts packed in clay

I passed the bright things of the sea
Those glistening bodies
deep with whalesong

I passed their intelligent eyes and mouths
their broad arms that cut the water
their complicated brains shaped like eternity

I passed infinitely each particle of planet

I gave my feet to the marsh of fire
I burned,

I burned
until I came finally again to myself:

To blood in the ears,
the drum of the extinct

To the last wild river
of my dying

At last—my dying

And the centuries of men moving down
like grains in the arms of ants.


Places I've Been

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