Two steps and she was on the balcony.
over the empty street.
Daylight’s finest tapers lit,
but the mica that sparkled was lost
in the wall without aperture.
Clean slates, but who could say
that the slow press of the sea
had primed nothing on their uncut pages?
Two steps and the rail was in her hands.
Before her, the great wall intact and Monday.
Behind, breathing regular at last and words
lost among a pillow’s rubber crumbs.
By the green light of digits
and a colon punctuating the small hours
she had watched him miss the bottom step
three times before remembering
those set into the quayside,
which if ever you were to go down
would you ever reach
the seventh underwater hardly visible
through the river’s suspended load?
In the end a turn
around the castle of Osono
the day after the last looting party
worked where milk though warm and skinned
had miserably not.
But the best of the story
came after he’d fallen asleep,
when it began to ramify.
beyond all hope of resolution.
And it may be that odd words reached him
like scallop shells zigzagging to the seafloor
– helmet, embers, tapestry, crow, astrolabe –
each setting off a story
that would fit between Once and upon.
Leaning far out she could see
a strip of the pale surface of a river
washing light like fine gold
from its unemphatic watershed on which
a rain gauge filled overnight
held, brimming in the sun, a wedge of water
undecided still between
the Ocean and the desert lakes;
washing light like fine mica
from a spring continually filling
a tundish, west to a dark estuary
almost blocked by a spit wearing thin: grass roots
could not hold a wedge of sand,
which slid into the undercutting current,
each grain going its way again.
A slip of pale river surface traversed by
whirlpools and smooth upwellings
lifting the suspended load,
such as all night had imperturbably
under arches gone still bearing up.
A truck full of newspapers
on a dream run, all the lights were green;
left her the smell of warm ink
and the one word CRASH.
The rail too cold to go on holding
seemed to give under her hands.
Two steps and she was back in bed,
between the sun-dried sheets still slightly stiff.
Nothing could be expected of her now.