Slow Waltz Through Inflatable Landscape

Christian Hawkey

At the time of his seeing a hole opened—a pocket opened—
and left a space. A string of numbers plummeted
through it. They were cold numbers.
They were pearls.
And though they were cold the light they cast was warm,
and though they were pearls he thought they were eyes.
They blinked. He blinked back.
Anything that blinks
must be friendly, he thought, until he saw the code
—a string of numbers—carved into their sides
and grew afraid. He tried to close
the space
but it was no longer his own. He tried to close his eyes
but they were no longer his. He tried to close
his mouth, his hands, his ears
but they were no longer
his, were never his to begin with: this was the time of his seeing.
The world opened. A line began. A tree grew above him
and he thanked it. A sun dawned over the line
and he thanked it.
A building unfolded abruptly and blocked the sun
and he put his hand on its side and thanked it
for the shade, he put his hand
on the sidewalk
and gave thanks to the cement—it was cool and wet and
took the shape of his hand into it—he put his eyes
at the feet of a woman
and she lifted them,
to her own, and he thanked her, from the inside, and she understood.
Wires swirled above him, straightened out along an avenue
and the lights came on. One moon rose.
A second moon
rose on the windshield of a car and he thanked them both.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
An electric green beetle shuttled out
of the darkness
and landed on his forearm, pulsing, he didn't remove it.
It seemed relieved. Some things work very hard
to leave the ground. Somewhere an infant
called out, sharply,
was comforted into silence. The deep note of an owl opened a tunnel
in the air. He was growing tired. He didn’t want to stop.
The world opened.
A line began.
It traveled out ahead of him and returned, tracing a wave,
white foam gathering, gathering the moonlight,
black water rising into a wall
and he held up his hand:
the wall froze, trembling, the head of a seal
poked through, looked around, withdrew,
he liked the way its whiskers
bent forward
as it withdrew and he liked the way his hand had stopped a wave
so he thanked his hand and moved on,
into the outskirts, the taste
of salt on his tongue,
the taste of brine, it made him thirsty although he had no thirst.
This was the time of his seeing. This was the time.
And the skeletal shadow of a radio tower
loomed to the right of him,
creaking, a red gleam, then nothing, he thought he heard music
passing through him and he was right:
he was humming something
from a song,
but he couldn't remember the words, which was fine,
they were sentimental anyway so he
thanked the radio tower
and kept moving,
the road turning to gravel, the gravel turning to dust,
the ditches sang with frogs, the ditches were silent,
a pair of yellow eyes waited for him
to pass and so he passed,
calmly, since the beetle was with him, trying to refold its wings,
and the tree was with him, unfolding its leaves,
and a man was with him, walking at his side
—he didn't need to ask
who he was, so he didn't, but in the corner of his eye
he caught a glimpse: he seemed familiar,
he looked like him
and he was,
although a string of numbers was carved into his side.
He asked if he could touch them and he said Yes,
touch them. They were cold numbers.
They were pearls.
He asked if he could kiss him and he said Yes, kiss me, and so he did.
It was a strange kiss. It was a beautiful kiss.
It seemed to last a long time.
It seemed to last a lifetime.
Copyright © 2005 by Christian Hawkey.

Poems by This Author

Hour with One Hand Inserted in a Time of War by Christian Hawkey
We dug with our hands & hand shovels

Further Reading

Related Poems
from Erotic Victor Sedatives
by Macgregor Card
Thanks and Gratitude
A List of Praises
by Anne Porter
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Around Us
by Marvin Bell
by Marilyn Nelson
For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon
For the Twentieth Century
by Frank Bidart
Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
Rabbi Ben Ezra
by Robert Browning
by Eleanor Lerman
Thank You For Saying Thank You
by Charles Bernstein
by W. S. Merwin
Thanksgiving Letter from Harry
by Carl Dennis
The Culture of Glass
by Thylias Moss
The Routine Things Around the House
by Stephen Dunn
The Teacher
by Hilarie Jones
The Thanksgivings
by Harriet Maxwell Converse
The Triumph of Time
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Two Countries
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Visiting Pai-an Pavilion
by Hsieh Ling-yun
What Was Told, That
by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
Poems About Love
Monna Innominata [I loved you first]
by Christina Rossetti
Monna Innominata [I wish I could remember]
by Christina Rossetti
A Birthday
by Christina Rossetti
A Line-storm Song
by Robert Frost
A Negro Love Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Darling, You Are the World's Fresh Ornament
by Laura Cronk
by Pura López-Colomé
In a Boat
by D. H. Lawrence
Let Us Live and Love (5)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Love in a Life
by Robert Browning
Love's Philosophy
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Lovers' Infiniteness
by John Donne
by Michael Blumenthal
Meeting at Night
by Robert Browning
My love is as a fever, longing still
by Christopher Bursk
No, Love Is Not Dead
by Robert Desnos
San Antonio
by Naomi Shihab Nye
She Walks in Beauty
by George Gordon Byron
The Buried Life
by Matthew Arnold
The Definition of Love
by Andrew Marvell
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
The Face of All the World (Sonnet 7)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Forms of Love
by George Oppen
The Kiss
by Stephen Dunn
The Look
by Sara Teasdale
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
The Passionate Freudian to His Love
by Dorothy Parker
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
by Christopher Marlowe
The White Rose
by John Boyle O'Reilly
To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing
by Robert Herrick
When I Heard at the Close of Day
by Walt Whitman
Wooing Song
by Giles Fletcher
Poems about Travel
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely [On the bus two women argue]
by Claudia Rankine
And the Trains Go On
by Philip Levine
Baudelaire in Airports
by Amy King
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
by Nikky Finney
Dark Matter
by Jack Myers
Evening Song
by Sherwood Anderson
by Sarah Arvio
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
I am Raftery the Poet
by Anthony Raftery
Looking for The Gulf Motel
by Richard Blanco
Manifest Destiny
by Cynthia Lowen
Out-of-the-Body Travel
by Stanley Plumly
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Road Warriors
by Charles Wright
Souvenir from Anywhere
by Harryette Mullen
The Bus through Jonesboro, Arkansas
by Matthew Henriksen
The Highwayman
by Alfred Noyes
The Strange Hours Travelers Keep
by August Kleinzahler
The Tinajera Notebook
by Forrest Gander
The Traveling Onion
by Naomi Shihab Nye
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Robert Louis Stevenson
by Malena Mörling
Traveling Light
by Linda Pastan
Trip Hop
by Geoffrey Brock
by Carl Sandburg
Window Seat: Providence to New York City
by Jacqueline Osherow