Living in temporary shared rentals
is homelessness with a roof; so it is
for me but it’s cheap after all. Compared
to others, I am perhaps lucky.
I have avoided sleeping under bridges.
Now it is only that I live among drug dealing
and loudness, cleaning the bathroom
with disinfectant, unpaid sanitation worker, after
the man-children smoke their brains out, then go out.
I wish they could go out like spent flames.
I do not wish them well. But after all,
the lilacs have come and passed; the chestnuts
wore their candles for a few brief days
and are now extinguished; I’ve recorded
all the passages, await more, the brief lives of columbines,
and why in June are the August lilies out?
This spring is collapsing into summer
which is collapsing into itself.
Out roaming the streets, the neighbourhood parks,
I record it all, even the cries of persons lost,
their fists raised to the moon, imploring. My friends,
I am not so much withdrawing as among the rasps
of perilous indrawing, gasped passages, I am ingathering.
At night I spread my food with herbs I grow
on a patio slab, antidote to all this dusty concrete,
smell them on my hands and breath
to set me dreaming.
When a calm may descend at four in the morning
and just before the construction and the city trucks
which seem to clean nothing start up their ruckus,
just when the dawn birds are sensing morning
warming their voices, I find a harvest in a troubled sleep.
Dreams, I’ve read, may last mere seconds or stretch for minutes
when they are most beautiful or disturbing,
whole chapters of a life, clever films
with all their scenes discrete yet intersecting.
I go running up the path to my grandfather’s meadow;
he lets me haul out a sweet carrot, wash it under the spout
to eat after I roll down through the ripening hay
to help my grandmother with lilies for the altar.
Everything then smells sweet, the hay,
the cinnamon pinks, the church’s paste-waxed parquet,
stored memory of incense, beeswax candles
erasing the harshness of hashish and skunk
weed, and rough cleaners, that fill my days.
When I come back, it is reluctantly, wishing
to sleep in the root cellar, but can’t stay.
I know it would be to stay among the dead,
eating fruit cakes with ghosts while the daisies
ripple in the wind beyond a long-replaced
window. Go back, it’s not a voice, more like a murmur
of hayfields and the stream that passes through
the ribbon grass, Go back, ingather, make
the most of your harvest. We are not ready for you yet.