It's a phantom dwelling.
So whether it stands on a hill
or stands on an absence
of hill, where the sky shifts
and glistens in mountain‑shape,
is like asking
the address of a jeweler's shop
that sells only black pearls.
Then is it a shed or shack,
an old warehouse or windmill,
or is it the empty mansion
where the moon floats
dressed in robes like a duchess?
The belts of dusk circle sidewalks,
blur the planet, saying it's hard to tell,
hard to tell . . .
Viewed through the keyhole of an owl's
talons, it's the blue, invisible frame
falling with nightfall. Or see it
as the spyglass pulled from a handkerchief,
the wood dove from the hat, the stage set
for the play children write
when, riding by on
bicycles, they shout
into its rooms without knowing.
Now's the time. Walk in.
Feel the walls that tremble.
Take the kept, stiff legs of a stork;
bathe in marsh, mist, and cloud.
Then dress with tunic of crow feathers.
For hands, wax wings of a bat.
Dial a prayer, dial a maker.
Make the sun into a stitched
and hagridden thing. A crizzled
pumpkin for the head. Now hang this
from the highest branch.
Bring night, bring sleep,
bring for the eyes buds of ether.
Chant, and chant again.
Chant until this night's
So is it there, in the stars'
penmanship lighting up,
in a simpleness that's ashen
awakening in the shadows,
in the sighing of the leaves
around the dry mouths of the dead?
One never knows. It may be only a style
of dust, rigged up by the wind.
Yet as twilight oils the stone,
a wand is in the mummer's hand,
frost in the dew, and the pearl
eye of the thunder‑drum
sets the bones of the face, your face,
peering in through a window.