The black sketch of the moon, from any neighborhood,
seems far more certain of its illness, and the chains
that tie it to our world as to a bed
than of that world below, whose trellised rains
stacked like green freight in the archipelagos
seem intricate, wind-roughened, close-spun, free.
Black stone, in your diminished state, hold close
your memory of the uprooted scree
that tore you from the hemorrhaging plains; sip
your tribute of insomniac regard;
and, from the slurred buzz of our dreaming, strip
our caved-in memories of house and yard
and, tying them to a passing comet’s tail,
fling that lit torch end over end over end . . .
white stone, at whom prisms stand aghast and blend
a light so indirect, it takes the veil . . .
do not forget the closeting of wives.
Like red wine on the tongue, it stalls and thrives.
The first poetry collection of Joe Osterhaus, The Domed Road, appeared in Take Three: AGNI New Poets Series: 1 (Graywolf, 1996). His poems also appear in The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (Middlebury College Press, 2000) and American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000). He lives in Washington, DC. (updated 2000)