From the top of the flight,
Of the wide white stairs.
Through the rest of my life
Do you wait for me there?
There’s a bell in my ears
There’s the wide white roar
Drop a bell down the stairs
Hear it fall forever more
Hear it fall forever more
Drop a bell off of the dock
Blot it out in the sea
Drowning mute as a rock
And sounding mutiny
There’s a light in the wings
Hits this system of strings
From the side while they swing;
See the wires, the wires, the wires
And the articulation
In our elbows and knees
Makes us buckle and we couple and then listen
As the audience admires
And the little white dove
Made with love, made with love
Made with glue and a glove and some pliers
Swings a low sickle arc
From its perch in the dark
Settle down my desire
And the moment i slept
I was swept up in a terrible tremor
Though no longer bereft, how i shook
And i couldn’t remember
And then the furthermost shake
Drove a murdering stake in
And cleft me right down through my center
And I shouldn’t say so
But I know that it was then or never
Push me back, into a tree.
Bind my buttons with salt.
And fill my long ears with bees.
Praying ‘please, please, please,
Oh you ought not!
No you ought not!!’
And then this system of strings
Tugs on the tip of my wings
Cut from cardboard and old magazines
Makes me warble and rise like a sparrow
And in the place where i stood
There i s a circle of wood
A chord or two which you chop and you stack in your barrow
And it is terribly good
To carry water and chop wood
Streaked with soot, heavy booted, and wild-eyed
As I crash through the rafters
And the ropes and the pulleys trail after
And the holiest belfry burns sky high
And then a slow lip of fire
Moves across the prairie with precision
While somewhere with your pliers and glue
You make your first incision
And in a moment of almost unbearable vision
Doubled over with the hunger of lions
‘Hold me close’, cooed the dove
Who was stuffed now with sawdust and diamonds
I wanted to say “why the long face?”
Sparrow perch and play songs of long face
Burro buck and bray songs of long face
Sing “i will swallow your sadness and eat your cold clay
Just to lift your long face.
And though it may be madness, I will take to the grave
Your precious long face.
And though our bones they may break & our souls separate
Why the long face?
And though our bodies recoil from the grip of the soil
Why the long face?”
And in the trough of the waves
Which are pawing like dogs
Between pale-faced and grave
As i write in my log
Then i hear a noise from the hull
Seven days out to sea
And it is the damnable bell
And it tolls, well I believe, that it tolls for me!
And it tolls for me!
And though my wrists and my waist
Seem so easy to break
Still my dear I’d have walked you to the edge of the water.
And they will recognise
All the lines of your face
In the face of the daughter, of the daughter, of my daughter.
And darling we will be fine
But what was yours and mine
Appears to me a sandcastle that the gibbering wave takes
But if it’s all just the same
Then will you say my name? Say my name.
Say my name in the morning so that I know when the wave breaks
I wasn’t born of a whistle
Or milked from a thistle at twilight
No, I was all horns and thorns
Sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
So enough of this terror we deserve to know light
And grow evermore lighter and lighter
You would have seen me through
But i could not undo that desire
From the top of the flight…
Of the wide white stairs…
Through the rest of my life…
Do you wait for me there?…