A Wind Between Lights

Grave e mortal; si che mal segue poi
     Senz’ ale ancor d’ un’ angioletta il volo,
     E ’l veder sol pur se ne gloria e loda.


Clogged with mortality and wingless, we
     Cannot pursue an angel in [his] flight:
     Only to gaze exhausts our utmost might.

     From a lighthouse keeper to another—


Life and death go out with the letters today.
Unguarded, even, by a form of address, this effusiveness
is my salutation, friend. In better circumstances more self-possessed—
composed and confident, as you’d come to expect—in
every other context but this, albeit still with respect,
all of my presence is abandoned—my spirit rejects
its prison of flesh—when I glimpse you with
my heart’s prescience. Intuiting the end in the beginning,
sensing since then our return to dust—the drying
up of our handfuls of lust’s indecent, iridescent pearls
purging our swineherd’s wisdom of this desert’s oasis—our


memory is your mummy wrapped in silence and linen—
a body of knowledge struggling against being kept secret
instead of sacred. As a wind between lights syncopates
the downbeat of our breaths, dances around its distress
as if sentient, knowing that jazz sounds better in
the rain—imparadise me with your parting’s panting, ‘Man,
know thyself,’ dismissing my doubt without prejudice, your acceptance
best suited to someone else. ‘No,’ you said, dismissing
the suggestion, ‘Your imperfections are perversely beautiful enough—your
dissonance a compelling complement to my smile’s talent for
dispelling all of your grievances, harmonizing our shortcomings’ opposites—


more proof than I need of god’s existence. Didn’t
Byron say that once somewhere? You would know, resident
genius…’ Rescue me, again, from my own foolishness. What
I write down so feverishly is a burning truth,
imploring you to return to my island—trying, without
being too demanding, to relinquish the reins of my
solitude. Will you suffer with me my sorrows, imagining
they are your own? Knowing disunion within oneself is
a grim companion, wary of self-created and self-perpetuated sorrow,
this is how we will recombine what temptation divided.
I’m sure of it. Visualizing that what I’ve asked


of you has already come to pass, recalling that
dusk we delayed doing depraved things in sight of
the sunset, when you said, ‘Fate listens to me—’
Remembering well how self-control is a myth propagated by
envious men to prevent immodesty from ruling the world—
as though you were still my priest and this
petition my confessional—I tremble at the altar of
your temple as I write this, my apprehension a
lamp in a storm. Words go out of me
the way energy transfers its warmth into another form,
hurt which pours from the heart for you to


hold. Vibration is the substance of substances, and everything
I wanted to say then before you left is
substantial—too much to recollect. That which fills the
emptiness you left feels worse than the burn of
the oil we spilled on us as we ascended
the stairs and fell after offering up this secret’s
heat, lifted it in pails to keep turning that
light every misguided yearning of mine nearly killed. Tell
me if, after all our distance, you can still
steer these shoals my loneliness stirs to tempestuous howls,
wailing of wounds only patience such as yours heals.

1Michelangelo Buonarroti, “[Sonnet] XXIII[.] Flesh and Spirit”, [Stanza 1, Lines 9–11], in “Sonnets” of The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti: Now for the First Time Translated into Rhymed English: By John Addington Symonds: Second Edition: With a Portrait, published at London by Smith, Elder, & Co. and at New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1904; page 25 (parallel text in Italian and English).