Sung home, you find your base
a garden of dear nourishment,
a space seen newly and to be
reformed, a pit of torment
where what needs endlessly to be redone
wires you each menstrual moon.
The surfaces of nourishment
grow quickly heavy with debris,
the ground obscure, doors close
and must be opened, but your hand
is weary from the tales behind
you think you know by heart.
Yet there is motion here, this ship
whose white shape looms bright-
windowed through the night sails on,
howevermuch the same appear
the neighborhood, the flux
of chaos water past the bow
upstairs, intruding summer birds
into the living room. Distracted
by their cries and portents you brew tea,
take soundings, chart direction
with the first mate, calculate
stores to manage the next leg
of journey, hope the morning's fog
will clear. Behind your eyes
the compass flickers wildly,
steadies, swings again as you regard
one solid point of near horizon, the
heavy haul through wind
to reach it, knowing only
that you'd rather sail another
sea. Meanwhile the mate argues
metaphysics: is there purpose
overall, some course, or does each wave
spin us indeed at random in the vortex
where the unfulfilled egg is
flushed in stale blood? The blood
is on the plate, this argument is
a garden, the sea, a soup
remade each day, simmering invisibly
on the back burner while the galley
pitches, all there is of sustenance
in storm: scalding in its splash
when you throw the cup down, choked
by whiffs of birdshit, periodic nausea.
In the dark, too far above
the keel to feel it bite
the deeper current, you kneel to sponge
the sweet crusts from the surfaces.

                                          for Karen, 8/76
                                         home from Europe,
                                         to the Bird perplex