POETRY from the NAVEL STRING Manuscript

for Maria

We who cannot sleep
but who must dream
will keep
the lamp wick trimmed
will toil while islands slumber
to the sooted chambers  
of oblivion
will make our word incarnate
to rise like bile
reminding you
that worry walks three steps behind
and will not hesitate
to find you
in your house.
We who won’t pretend
do not intend
to be polite.
That cannot be our way. 
This thing we say
is not for its own sake 
but comes through us,
unbidden fact
and must be offered up in tact
to your imperfect world
which first inspired it. 

We who will not lie
must labour in this faith like mothers
making messages
from allotments of despair
and love, and therefore do not care
to leave our uncradled news
upon the sleeping doorsteps
of our neighbours.

We who will not dissipate
are not devoid of human aspiration
but wait
perforce outside your wall
like the nightly sirens you ignore
and the revolving lights which slash and burn
beyond the boundary
of your circumspect concern.

We who refuse to conveniently die
by our own hand
must pry
apart the portal of your house
violate your sleeping space
question your sanity
instruct you to embrace
our profanity
as we describe iniquities
that leave us disenfranchised

And now you are awake
with every instinct clenched
because even you can sense
the blade of blame
scraping its sharpened steel against the bars
installed around your heart
your brain, your family
the sanctity
of your most precious things

And we who were lately inconsequential
are suddenly substantial
incarnate muscle
our rough scent so irrepressible
that you search
the desperate nightstand
for a weapon
disaggregating deeds
that signed away our future
the dreamlands of our fathers
and there is nothing but to take up arms
nothing but to aim
nothing but to gun down
this crude
thing, this threatening
which dares intrude
accusing you of treachery
in the sanctum of your house

Nothing, until light comes
upon the breathless form:
your son’s best friend
in whose hand your daughter walked to school
who has eaten from your mother’s table
in the village you were born.