In the Libraries of the Future
Children dump buckets of oil into each other’s eyes. The library’s shelves of buckets, countless. This is how children learn what once was. Glug, glug, glug, into their eyes go the names: pteranodon, polar bear, Oregon. Years ago the book-sniffing dogs were deployed. Miserable German shepherds loosed in every district, Times New Roman held to their noses. Now the children dance to descriptions of music. A network of computers turns the world. “My favorite dinosaur,” a child says, “is the plum.” “No,” another child says, “the poem.” “No,” the first child says, “the sea.” Yes, the other child, weeping oil, says. “The sea.”
Across the concrete planter, through pools
of false moonlight, the slug—
glides. Makes for itself a river beneath
the soft boat of its body, vanishes
in the lantana. Along its back
a code, a secret
plan for helicopters, clue
about forgotten medicines. Intelligence
of slime, which is my intelligence. We are
siblings in the velvet heart.
If only we could decipher
the alphabets we secrete into space,
of fact, cost, material.
Suffer with me, twin. Ride the river
you lay like a train track down
for yourself, o glowing locomotive
remembering rain. It isn’t fair, but
look at me—you can’t.
Even if I could, on a night like this,
I would not light that lamp again.
The singular night, a clarinet, we
a single trembling note, turned away
from the ear of God.
While on my walk I watch a mockingbird
assail a larger crow & think, that’s good.
It’s good to see the unknown singer taking on
a titan of apostleship. Lately, I’ve collapsed
into a sadness with no shape or history.
No, no, no is everywhere, I wait for no, I know
the no is coming in its oily augur’s robe.
But then I pass beneath the mulberry tree,
behold the smears of purple on the ground
where the heavy fruit has fallen. God I want
to speak beneath, to speak within, oh God
you alphabet of crows—preserve the tree
& mockingbird, the sadnesses that smear
with purple stars my anonymity.