The Climate on Mars
The car’s on fire
but you still have to drive it.
The street’s new. It shines
To drive, to feel the wind
through your hair
is a good thing, they whisper.
In the other version of
tentative that you were thinking of,
the streets open up. Blue buildings
with windows catching gold.
A kind of red-gold
as we pass.
You can go home, of course. You can park
in the garage.
You can offer strangers a ride,
drive them to the country.
There are responsibilities
in this world. (I suspect as much
when you talk of courage, though I had
to add it later.)
So tonight we’ll stay up very late.
We’ve such fine things to do.
Itinerary for Inter-Planetary Travel
When you gave me the car, as a way to explain
the climate on Mars, you warned me
it was on fire.
But I said to myself: Well, it’s only a little hotter,
a little brighter red
than I’m used to. I’d so wanted to drive it!
After all, it was
what you’d offered me.
You said it would only be “wind” in my hair,
and that’s all I felt,
is like that.
there’d be “a kind of red-gold”
to get passed, and I heard
“a kindness of red-gold.”
Trust is the only grammar
I have to go on.
And there does seem to be some kindness
in every passage
out of this world.
You’re right about that. I’ve seen it
on the faces of my dead,
after they were done with the dying. So much kindness,
there was still some left behind
on their pale, emptied faces.
That’s what I tell myself,
when I’m listening.
Hard as it is, I have to trust the grammar of
my own translations.
You said the “streets open up,” and
they do, don’t they?
But isn’t it ever only the one street?,
going the one-way, which is the body, though I imagine it
opening wider and wider
until it’s done with kindness
and with burning.
A Model of Leptons
They’re burning our dishes again, saying
we’re all going to die someday. You’re right
when you say it’s a combination, then, of kindness
and burning. A cloth hat hitting
and bouncing off the floor. Calculating the math
of the folds of the dress
as you turn in the mirror. How weightless
some things must be. The room
used to hold a little birdcage. I don’t know
if I have it anymore. Behind the things we say
are people moving back and forth,
carrying each other. We’re
at a restaurant in Chicago. We ask
someone to take our picture. Here,
it’s the little silver button. You have to keep it
depressed a second or so. And underneath
we count the steps between the tables,
how the bodies might drape
if it becomes draping time. Small group work
or projects may be used. Films. A comedian
is set to arrive to talk about hospital food.
We’ve got to make sure there’s room
along the street in case the street
opens into a parade. To combine the world
into groups, we frame the photograph to include
the restaurant façade, but as few
of the people walking by as possible.
I would like to understand the countries
that I feel between the objects on the table, substituting
for people. Perhaps the table would rise to the left
and fly into the plate glass window. Perhaps
it would fly over the roofs across
the street. That might be the ordinary thing to do.
I would like to have a car that drives itself,
please. And only nice days. You say smile. But you might
be mistaken, you know.
You’ve been mistaken before.