After a long madness peace is an assassin
in the heart. Where there had been the clenched
fist, the strung out sinew, the hamstrung grin,
the erect eye and hand on every shadow like a spy,
now the river springs from the crystal of its sleep
in a sapphire lunge to the sea. A year of madness
is a libation poured out of nettles and boiled
herbs, of knives oiled with honey that cut silently
to the spine. I was madness's kin, no, more its
parent blood, its coursing lymph, its skeleton.
I kept company with lunacy, broke bread with him,
lay beside him, my head in his arms, felt him draw
down the sheet to watch me as I shook and so it was
one year till now.
Now the rocks become a sweetness
in the listless meadow, the lutist brays to
the ashes, flowers in the red crystal bowl push
against the windowpane and I sleep again,
my hands beneath my cheek, legs straight out,
eyes shut against the inward stratagem of dream
and the bedsheets and counterpane lie upon me
no more leaded capes of knobbed steel, but companions
of my skin, like the surface of my river is kindred
balm to the volcanoes and riven headlands that lie beneath it like pain.