Two Poems

by Temple Cone

However You Cut a Lime, a Star Appears

Buffalo surge over the plains at night like foam
At the edge of a wave. Nighthawks boom far above.
By dawn, the grass is scored from a thousand meteors.

St. Luke believed that true faith, like true healing,
Leaves a scar. The word is a cicatrix, torn into being,
The pain that knits itself into a shield against harm.

By now, Ishmael has grown tired of talk about archangels
And the whiteness of hell. Closing his eyes to the wind,
He dreams of a home far beyond the grieving waves.

To forget its past, the soul crosses Lethe before rebirth.
Each one of us was a prizefighter, barmaid, pope, and slave.
Come, take my hand, let’s cross this low stretch of river.

Whales don’t lament the vast latitudes they travel.
Their songs are no more about sorrow than bliss,
But are maps leading the singers across a dark trench.

It’s never clear if we’re going on a journey or into exile.
If there’s an end, it’s hidden as a wound beneath a scar.
If there’s an end, it’s endless as the plains we cross.

The Candied Body of Felix Gonzales-Torres

He left every ounce of his flesh in candy for us to eat,
Left the weight of his lover, gobbled by AIDS, the weight
Of the two of them huddled and crying on a couch.

How strange that beauty comes to the sorrowful
When they most need it, when it least avails them.
He draped strings of muted lights from a ceiling,

Called them Leaves of Grass. He understood Whitman
Better than whole universities of scholars
And sleeps chest to chest with him on a bed of stars.

He stacked black-and-white posters of clouds,
Wanting us to take one for ourselves,
Like peeling back the museum roof to expose

The endless possibilities of the heavens.
He worked with nothing you couldn’t buy at Rite-Aid.
Cheap, disposable gifts the dying give the dying.

Candy melts to nothingness, humming tungsten breaks,
The poster is lost in an attic of cardboard boxes,
And over the world’s body the clouds go, nevertheless.

                            For Jonathan VanDyke