Occasioned by a 2007 photograph from a Roman archeological dig showing the 5000-year-old skeletons of a man and a woman who had been buried embracing
Not Yet Darling
When I think of our years
as feet in a mile, I see that mile
below me, then look back
at you instead. The mile's full of things
unlike ourselves, things that change
position, change what they want.
When I think of our long nap
I think of sleep as a mountain of
sugar we had to eat, to earn this
sweetness. The more we ate,
the further we loved. Yes,
and the forgetfulness, like water
after a long, dark nap.
Memory, you have tricked us out of
our clothing in front of all these
people we can say nothing to.
We never looked sweeter to ourselves.
Look at how long we have lain here,
wearing only our smiles.
Look at how long we've said next
to nothing: our faces show it, and
the scattered rest of us.
Out time together is a single room
in a big dirty house; our mother moved
to that other country, and we held
each other for comfort. The new world
specializes in us.
We were the planted, the wished-for,
the suddenly bumped-into, the uncanny
that keeps observers awake long after
we have fallen back into
But why do I feel more relaxed now
than any time in the last five thousand years?
These people watching us, I feel
their sleep coming upon me from below,
then from either side of our embrace.
Their sleep becomes their news for us.
We had time to loosen our magnetism
until nothing held us in place, and
we had time to speak to one another
in each language, finally the language
We're what they want to be doing
when they're done with what
they're doing now.
5.We have another set of tasks
we could not do before today
Let us speak to them about it
in the language of sand.
Let us tell them this part, too: We're
what you will run from when you run
in gray fog past wooden gravestones.
When you run that way,
the world begins for us again. Here, friend,
tell us that part of your long story.