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  • Sorrowful Ode, and: Letter to Jo from Radovna Valley, Slovenia
  • Richard Jackson (bio)

Sorrowful Ode

I'm sorry for still loving you this way. I'm sorry for letting these  wordslunge between us the way the wind does through a tiny knot of  flame.I'm sorry for letting them ferment the way the sun does each  night.There's no excuse, and yet, maybe I am not so sorry for still loving  youthis way. I don't pay any attention to the way the filament in the  bulbglows for only a few seconds when the light goes out. It doesn't  matterto me that the river stores the city's lights only to sweep them  downstream.

Sorry or not, I don't think there is anyone left in my soul.  Therefore,I am not so sorry for still loving you this way, the way a sunken  boatrecalls its sail. Sometimes I think the heart is a beehive someone  hasturned over. Sometimes it is a silkworm building its obscure  cocoon.There must be a few derelict constellations with no light to show  us yet.I'm sorry, but sometimes I also think you have created the night.Other times I think you must have inhaled the breath of stars.

I'm sorry for loving you this way, for loving you still. Each  memoryhollowed out the way water drips for centuries through a  sandstone cave. [End Page 62]

The ambulance siren slithering away through the streets but  lingering on.The wood frogs freezing themselves dry all winter to revive in  spring.I'm sorry, but maybe the truest love is the most desperate. I'm  sorry.I'm not sorry. Sometimes I think these words rot like fallen fruit,  andsometimes I think you are the smell of rain that inhabits the air  before a storm.

Letter to Jo from Radovna Valley, Slovenia

If I would just hear from you, the wind would no longer huntalong the cliffs, the light would no longer seem forged.If I would hear from you, maybe this sudden fearwould not have tracked me here where the air is stillbruised by these distant deaths. Sept. 20, 1944:this house burned with all the villagers inside.None of my words have echoes here. This is whythe future turns its collar up and walks away.

While I don't hear from you the universe is racing apart,so we all grow more distant. I am fearful your life isclosing like this flower growing from the abandoned walls,the way twenty-four souls in this house must have tightenedtheir fists. What did they hear before some roll of the dicedecided what village would die? Your doctor's dice are blank.I think it's a dark planet that's growing inside of you.Last night the cold earth wore the dark like your watch cap. [End Page 63] If I don't hear from you, each of these words will be a cavelined with your handprints, the water beneath the bridge  tremblessome memory from the other side of time. Centuries ago,Dante saw the earth as a giant threshing floor. There's a giantconcrete hand here covered with the names of the slain,the children turned to smoke. Now the birds are eating the  daylight.Sometimes I think we are all living inside this open wound.Maybe this is why these dead open the windows of their souls for  you.

Because I haven't heard from you I am telling you what thoughtshave broken the windows of sleep and ransacked my dreams.But these metaphors are useless. They are vultures sitting on this  house.This is the architecture of death out of which we hope to  constructan architecture of life. We want the roots of the moon to reach the  earth.We want the wind to be made of doors. These are yours. You can  enterlike a small star rebelling from the corner of the universe.From one of these eyeless windows History leans out, its lungs

tightening, the words slipping back into its mouth. From thisskeleton of...


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pp. 62-64
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