Thursday, August 18, 2011

Friday Love Poems: Lillian Dunn!

The Silver Church

We're on our way to the silver church, although we don't know it yet.
Just that we're lost, three days past the city's spangled ashcan skirts,

past the midnight arrival at my friends' cabin, bride-like in its dark field, where my friends
aren't yours. Past your first morning sulk, and my deepest desire to knock coffee on your jeans.

Past our belief that we're always better when we're on the road, that we just need to find
that lake - remember? - dotting our minds’ map. Past the bottle sleeping broken

in the weed-feathered water, your bandaged foot pressing gas onwards to somewhere else
we've never seen each other. Past all of that, and now lost in some flat green Canadian

nowhere. My mistake, and no Americana to guide us, just St. Hubert the giddy chicken
and his drive-through smile. In two more wrong turns, we'll see it

above the village roofs and grasping antennae, it will fill our eyes like a glorious mistake:
a small church, pure in the sun, fat and shining like a great fish swimming to heaven.

We won't argue about the way to Quebec. You'll just turn the wheel until it's before us.
Our knees will shake up stone steps. We'll lay our hands on the resplendent walls.

They are wrapped in hammered tin, warm with a day's sun. The old priest won't speak English,
but he'll let us in. We'll rest inside its stonework ribcage, breathing in old prayers;  

they'll taste like spice and paper, like all those prayed in other churches. The cross will stop
at the same stations. Politely, we'll thank the old man. When we close the vast doors behind us,

we'll wear the reflected heat of splendor on our shoulders. We'll drive away,
quiet through the clean little village, hearts sated with surprise.

But we're not there yet. You are still neat and silent, furious in the driver's seat.
I am searching in the map, waiting for my eyes to fall to the place

where I never wonder if I love you. Where you are ancient and beautiful. A gleam
on the skyline, your doors locked, the priest's hand on the key.

8th and Dickinson
I love this geometric valley like it means something.

I take comfort in the shelter of my neighbors’ roofs, strewn with leaves and t-shirts
beached in firework hours.
I love the one white door, three stories up, that opens onto nothing. Handle and everything.
           Like the sky is another room but the walls are our noises and our ratty moon
           the ceiling bulb.

At night I wash dishes when everyone else washes dishes and we all ignore each other in our
          illuminated train cars, racketing through time at varying altitudes.

Calls from the hills. My neighbor circles her concrete patio, screaming inconsolably into her
        telephone. The teenage guitarist plays backup. They’re meant for each other. The same
        floating four-bar riff for days.

Once I heard a family violently fighting and then I stuck my head out my window and saw the
        ball flying through the air and they were playing a game and laughing so hard it sounded
        like they were killing each other.

God, the impossible flotsam these people leave in their yards. Live chickens and pots of kale;
a translucent umbrella, failed chrysalis; the scarlet nightgown; the Big Wheel;
the beach chair.

I admit the last item is mine. It is purple and green and sags in the middle, but if you’re drunk in
           summer you might not even notice, especially if down the valley the anonymous guitarist
           finally plays the whole goddamn song. 

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