I might have learned to hear in any stray rotting log
what rot has reached the very root of us.
This infinity forced down the gullet,
this string of bees that once turned
honey into sun does not answer.
One by one they open in my head.
There is, I know, a science
of separation, an infinite inch between
that sweetness and your hand.
In night’s disheveled elegies,
stifled laments—a trapped hum
crazes in your brain that it may lie
rough and real against your collarbone.
Soft atrocity, sweet fright.
Even the chandelier shakes.
I watch my telephone with a watched eye
like a bee, completed, dying hiveless.
You, with your square windows, holding
on to some airless annihilating height—
eat your god, child, and love it!
The clockwork oxen jaws, the tense
anticipation, eating money by the lemon river
for the country that comes when I close
my eyes. The world wears its
nerves in the screams of children
playing at war, playing
your sad, your same, your only air.
And the splendid official, all otherness
and air, sighs like a vent in the earth
and breaks like a black wave above my bed.
Note: “Bells Which Will Not Ring” is a cento
composed of lines from the work of Osip Mandelstam