Monday, September 14, 2009

vanishing point


he stops.  says he has been waiting.
she smiles.
he asks her where they are going.
she smiles.
says all roads are like this one.

she says she takes her coffee the way
she takes her roads.
he brings her coffee.  the dark liquid slips down her throat
the red tide of dawn flows out towards them,
sweeping through the thin scrub
to break over the low building.
beyond it the heat begins to gather.
he says it is time to move.

if there were bends,
around each would be
a carcasse and crows
there are no bends.
crows are lifted and scattered
as they pass.

he thinks he sees ahead,
at the limit of sight
a kadaichi man
walking on his reflection
singing a thing into being
his feather shoes
rippling the air.
he thinks he hears a bone flute.
the tyres hum with the sound of bullroarers.
he thinks he hears his name.

when they talk they say the same things
in different languages.
she says there is no leaving.
he says there is no home.
their words hang with the dust motes.  the heavier ones
settle with the flecks of ash from his cigarette.
the radio rattles with a sound like irrigation.
fragments of song spray out, and evaporate
when they reach the ears.  she turns it off and they listen
as the road spins the wheels and their talk
is plucked out through the windows with the blue smoke.

now there are bends.
she touches a place on a map.
when he shifts his feet on the pedals
the needles on the gauges
flick like dowsing rods.
he turns off the road, the wheel
light between his hands.
when they stop, the red dust rolls over them.
she writes their names on the dashboard
with a wet finger.

now they can hear the heat
pressing on them with the sound of locusts.

there is a look between them
which neither of them owns.
above them leaves hang blue like blades
and dull chrome bark is streaked with rust.

they share water.  the water is warm. 
they eat.  bread, salt, oil.
after they have eaten
he presses her lips against her teeth with his.
she tastes of olives.
they talk tongue to tongue
omitting the spaces between words
not trusting the air.  almost
everything vanishes.


there is the sound of water
and the sound of sand.
they walk
towards it through the low grasses
scattering crabs and lifting gulls.
her calves are cuttlebones beneath skin
and the cables that anchor her toes
push bow waves through the white grains.

she stops.
he smiles and asks her which way.
he knows
which way she will say.
she says
this way and her gaze slides
over and past him.  there is
a grain of sand in her lashes and the smell
of salt in his nose.  the sand is
a broad ribbon of shot silk under the white sun.

a quick gust raises a nap of grains which briefly stings
their legs the way a puff of breath through the nostrils can
sting a lover.
he wants to cut her the way
he can cut water and slide up the face of her
beneath the skin of her
breaking wave,
to burst through with both their strengths and
crash back into her.
he can feel this, and certain muscles
flicker beneath his skin in quick rehearsal.

behind them, behind the dunes,
the road waits crouched in the heat and ticking.

they are talking.  she looks
now here, now here, while he skips
his sight over her face and darts it
like a tongue into what is between her open lips.
her voice is low and measured, and he uses his
to wedge open sentences so that words flow
and spill and pool.  water and sand.

he carries his shoes in his hand.  he is
closer to the water than she.
as they walk and talk she is edging them
gently towards the water.  he feels
he can see beneath her bones, and
he smiles with the side of his face that
she cannot see.
small waves spend their strength
hissing up the hard-packed sand to lick
their toes.  there is the crack and pop
of breathing holes opening behind each
recession of the sea.

then they are walking through the water ankle-deep.
it is cool, and now he feels the prick
of sun on his neck and face.  the water
catches at the cuffs of his trousers, climbs
through threads.  later
there will be tidemarks.

ahead is an abutment of rock.  molten it has squeezed and bulged and run
so that it twists and spills like flesh.
they climb.
at the top they sit cupped
in each other, watching the water.
they talk of the past.
they talk of the present.
they talk of the moment.
they talk
of falling.

everything vanishes.


they are in the car.  they
are on the road.
from the radio buzz.
he drives,
his eyes
drinking red miles through a black straw.
she sits,
her eyes
behind sunglasses and milk-blue lids.

two flies
entered the car with them.
now they write in the voice of
their wings
on the windshield.  beyond the glass is pressure of air
enough to
destroy them.
against the glass, they are safe from
the pressure,
and in terrible danger.  he
bats at them with the back of his hand and stings
the tips of his fingers beneath the nails against
the glass.
for a moment, the sound vanishes,
the small black bodies with it.
he peers at the dashboard and the car
slides off the shoulder of the road.

he twists
the wheel and the flies
from where they have been hiding
on the black road of two names
winding through
the red dust coating the dashboard.

already a fine down of red
begins to blur the black letters.

she breathes
a deep breath and her head turns a little
towards her window.
she opens
it an inch.  two.  more.
there is the harsh sound of air
being torn.

he speaks to her
of the flies.
she bats at his words with hers
and a crease appears
on the side of her face that
he cannot see.
she says
she will drive. certain muscles beneath his face
flicker in quick rehearsal
of speech.
he speaks.
she is silent.

they do not need to argue
to argue.

the car is stopped.
he climbs out and walks towards the thin scrub.
he makes red mud with water from his body
and looks out across the red metal heat.
he thinks he sees
a kadaichi man
sitting crosslegged on his reflection
singing smoke into being
his feather shoes
tucked beneath him.
he thinks he hears
flies droning.
his ears roar with the sound of roads.
he thinks he hears his name.

his eyes roll up
beyond the sun and into the red.
and then the black.

everything vanishes.


the white sun boils red
at the back of his eyes
and crowbars up the lids.
he turns his head and stones burn
his cheek.

she floats and flickers above the road.
she is moving around the car.  the car
floats and flickers above the road.
the road floats and flickers above
a reflection of a road.
a reflection of a car.
a reflection of
she floats and

heat squeezes his skull.
he thinks levitation must be a sin.

he thinks
they may be lost.
he says
he looks for himself
among the crowd in
her ears and behind her eyes.
where she looks for herself.
she is too far for his small words

rattle against his teeth and drop pebbled
onto the red sand and the burning rocks.
some are blown into his ears
with the sand and seeds and feathers
twisted up
by the screw of dust and wind
which moves like smoke.

if there is a look between them
it belongs to them both.

they are too far to see eyes.

she calls.
her words
drop through the thin air
and stop to hover in the blast of heat
above the road.
what is between them
crouches like prey
trying to turn its skin
to stone.

his thoughts are wax melting.
his thoughts are a father
watching a son fall.

his thoughts are a sun
falling through the red
into the black.

in the black,
everything vanishes.


the shadow of a low building
sweeps away through the thin scrub.

when he looks down at his feet
he sees feathers.
there is the sound of singing.

he begins to walk.


a trick
of perspective and curves
and the lensing of heat

everything vanishes.

nothing disappears.


  1. back in the saddle, i see. or in the driver's seat...

    this is wonderful, somehow reminds me of the tom waits song "burma shave", tho obviously w/a different ending, because is just does.

    the crows and the gulls should not both "lift"--one of them should go up another way.

  2. It held me intent for every word, every moment.