I found it among curios and silver.
In the pureness of wintry light.
A woman painted on a leaf.
Fine lines drawn on a veined surface
In a handmade frame.
This is not my face. Neither did I draw it.
A leaf falls in a garden.
The moon cools its aftermath of sap.
The pith of summer dries out in starlight.
A woman is inscribed there.
This is not death. It is the terrible
Suspension of life.
I want a poem
I can grow old in. I want a poem I can die in.
I want to take
This dried-out face,
As you take a starling from behind iron,
And return it to its element of air,
So that Autumn
Which was once
The hard look of stars,
The frown on a gardener’s face,
A gradual bronzing of the distance,
From now on,
A crisp tinder underfoot. Cheekbones. Eyes. Will be
A mouth crying out. Let me.
Let me die.
Originally published in the January 1994 edition of The Yale Review, vol. 82.1.