A POSTCARD FROM NEW MEXICO

(Mimbres painted bowl, c. 1100)

 

                              for Rebecca

 


Two humpbacked rabbits spin,

two pillows in a washing machine,

white nose to white rump,

counterclockwise. Men dug them up

to watch, to catch them going at it

like yin and yang. But both are just white

 

clay slip, just gaps in the black paint

of outer space, where a body can’t

stop tumbling forever, let alone

lie down with anyone.

This is the negative signature

of their anonymous Rabbit Master,

 

the caption says. And it’s reading me,

my strange late-middle-aged tale of you

and me and the Master, she

who was female, very likely,

and painted jokes for the dead.

A soup bowl for a grave good.

 

It’s terrible, being buried alone.

You get this vessel to travel in,

but it’s already been pierced

and sunk. As if that ritual last

sharp punch could make the dead one stay,

and keep the live one company.





                                           The Rialto #79 (2014) (UK)