Clear White

I. Clear Night
Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.

And the wind says "What?" to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say "What?" to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.

II. Snow
If we, as we are, are dust, and dust, as it will, rises,
Then we will rise, and recongregate
In the wind, in the cloud, and be their issue,

Things in a fall in a world of fall, and slip
Through the spiked branches and snapped joints of the evergreens,
White ants, white ants and the little ribs.

III. White

Carafe, compotier, sea shell vase:
Blank spaces, white objects;
Luminous knots along the black rope.


The clouds, great piles of oblivion, cruise
Over the world, the wind at their backs
Forever. They darken whomever they please.


The angel, his left hand on your left shoulder;
The bones, in draped white, at the door;
The bed-sheets, the pillow-case, your eyes.


I write your name for the last time in this mist,
White breath on the windowpane,
And watch it vanish. No, it stays there.


White, and the leaf clicks; dry rock;
White, and the wave spills.
Dogwood, the stripe, headlights, teeth.

-Charles Wright (used by permission of Wesleyan University Press)