from Skin Divers, collected in Poems
Your mouth, a hand
against my mouth.
Pressed to earth, we dream
of ocean: heat-soaked, washed
with exhaustion, our mariner's sleep
haunted by smells of garden--fresh rosemary
thirty miles off Spain. Long grasses
sway the bottom of our boat.
We follow a sequence
of scents complex as music,
navigate earth places, sea places, follow
acoustics of mountains,
warbler instinct in the dark--
Siberia, Africa, and back--
phosphor runways guiding us to shore,
moonlight half eaten by the waves.
Across the lawn, a lit window floats.
Welts of lupine. You remember
an open window, Arabian music
through wet beeches. We know we're moving
at tremendous speed, that if it could be seen
the stars would be a smear
of velocity. But all is still,
pinioned. In the night garden,
light is a swallowed cry.
Naked in the middle of the city
the stars grow firm in our mouths.
Excerpted from Poems by Anne Michaels. Copyright © 2000 by Anne Michaels. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Photo credit © David Laurence