On the Lake
Something tells you that it will not be here forever
Although highlights and shadows move
Through the day in permanence.
Every passenger is promised a better world
As the boat’s engine grinds politely
Away from the jetty.
On an arrow point of land close by,
An old house, sweet in the human bondage
Of green shutters and lacteous walls,
Stands tall on a lawn incline where,
By the shore, weeping willows brand
Its façade with rhapsody.
The sun hangs immaculate above,
As though it might spread wings.
The swans, their feathered arses upside down
Are confused between two firmaments.
For the sun throws stars on the water like confetti.
Releasing from the dark velvet of slopes
Turned off by the hour,
An emerald mine of pasture,
And from the sky’s pellucid quiet
The longhand of flight.
Dollops of snow on the peaks
Have an afternoon’s lemony taste
To the eyes.
The sliding doors of mountains
Leave gaps to pass through.
You want to escape
Pursuit by mankind.
One second turns the lake to glass
Keeping you still now
In a rumor of infinitude.
A candid calm that does not tolerate
Any schemes of agitation.
All is fair presence,
Neither friend nor foe.
Eastward is best. To reach hotbeds of dream,
tireless, beyond beet fields
battened down with straw.
Bypassing farmland flats,
where hay bales promise
a score of wolf howls,
from the sweven of mountain
blackened by djinns of forest.
In summer, the alpine house,
embossed with blue flowers,
celadon shutters and cello insight,
In quantic passageways walking
in and out of synaptic calms and storms.
Her celestial ceilings cloud over.
By windows, a Darjeeling-scented rainfall,
and the afternoon yawns like a panther.
At both ends of the day, elsewhere
comes home, exotic and enchanted.
Spruce woods nearby
guard the savagery
of the spotted and striped.
Mother haunts her laboratory,
integrating the lovely and the wild.
We wondered which form of life
we belonged to.
At four and eight, we wove between
the ragged poetics of castaways and
the pillars of establishment.
lawns eased back under centenary oaks
though economy fined down our infancy.
Our kitchen table, raw like a slab of meat,
spared us superfluities.
The cottage windows focused on our fantasies,
twelve pane binoculars keeping us from New England blizzards.
Christmas presents stood by
like great idols because
they had required sacrifice.
A summer of thrashing thunderstorms
was another precept of instability.
When my brother and I crossed
the larch and pine wood
shimmering with surmised magic
and the shadings of fancy,
we knew another world,
of wounded elegance,
of Chinoiserie confusion,
blue, green, saffron porcelain stacked
against a heart’s despondency.
The lilting-tongued maid who greeted us
moved cobwebs from place to place
with the languid fingers of a Bebali dancer.
Staircases ascended like djinn spirals
to garrets of hidden woe.
Ancestors, framed in wooden austerity,
darkened by secular emanations,
hovered like moths around candlelit suppers:
an arpeggio of courses closing
with the decadence of profiteroles
sobbing hot chocolate sauce.
In every fireplace winter fires etched
an archaic charm into Manchurian rugs
where we nested like squirrels.
Already, gymnasts steadying ourselves
between mightiest and most modest,
on that tight rope
striking a balance.