A Thousand Thousand Separations

Time is a heartless hammer
It builds a ladder from my longings with rungs I cannot reach
The years drift like calendar pages
while footsteps of toddlers spin the world
How many cats have purred on how many porches?
How many men have painted us and them
in blood-red words on lines of bones?

Time waters the seeds in my mind
germinating memories with droplets of my losses
It blooms a fickle flower
with scent coming, going; colours bending
What is that note I hear?
High and pure and ineffable
it floats above my head

If  memory was as tenacious as death
I would suffer no separations—
but yesterdays sail across the pond of my life
atop ripples made by pebbles I have tossed
Each pebble is my living, lived
Above those fugitive ripples, what is that note I hear
as certain as my sadness?

I am face down on the ice of a Montreal marsh
Water that swelled and breathed
is now frozen and pressed against my snow coat
Inside the amber ice lacy waterweeds
are stopped mid-dance like music paused
I tune my ear to the ice. Listen again for that note
humming in hard water where nothing moves

I am hurtling on folded cardboard down an icy slope
at the foot of Greenwood street,
my bottom, wet; wool mittens, stretched and loose
Above me, watery sun slippers through winter twilight
In the pearly glow of this vanished light
I am numb with cold and huge happiness
and so hear nothing above my head

I am straddling the wall of the Acropolis
midday in bright September
scanning this city of sugar cubes
I’m the eye of the sun, a spit in a hot pan
Even in this hot pan of the Acropolis
that note still hovers above my head
a bead of gold that I do not see

At death they say life flashes
I am not dead
yet life is flashing with light so bright I am Genesis
I want all the flashes, all the time—
to hold life’s sparks in the fist of my mind
because those sparks are mine
Are me

The life I’ve lived is leaving
I cannot bear it
My derelict brain leaks precious recollections downstream
and every blessed quivering moment
that tows each brilliant bold banal thought and
feeling—trembling, wondrous—
is going

Except for that persisting note
above my leaky brain
a sound-clue from beyond beyond my mewling memory,
telling me—all I am, I was, will be
is a single note. High, pure, ineffable
and separated
from nothing