River Stones

In Your Black Heart

You must know

that I have known you

all your life.

You must

know your black heart

can't frighten me.


must not fear for my life,

not for my welfare,

not my happiness,

not joy,


I have known you

all your life,

not just these last ten years

we spent so little of together.

Your black heart

can't frighten me,

however hungry for unhappiness,

whatever acid boils for blood,

whatever crush of fistlike pulse

it threatens with.

Let it snarl demands;

Let it whimper fearful threats;

Let it bite me to the bone;

I choose my scars,

and I choose you,

if one can say he chooses

when the choice means choose myself.

For I have known you all my life,

yin of my yang,

bottle of my wine,

flames that make me sun,

flesh of my blood,

seat of my soul.

I have been the father

gathering you from the crying ground,

your toes newly jointed, bathed in blood.

I have been the brother

you slept with, piled like puppies,

the sister that you hated and adored,

the mother who heard everthing and

never flinched, never wavered.

I am the doctor who presided at your birth,

the man your mother trusted to deliver you,

the man who cut the dependent cord and

slapped you once, slate hard,

for love and life.

And you gave me my price:

You chose to be.

And you gave me more than I thought just:

You loved me.

I am the first boy who gazed in wonder

at your tender nakedness,

brazen in a dark garage,

and the first that touched

the new nipples

proud on your chest,

the scant hair that made woman of a child,

the mouth like a warm sea,

and the first that opened you like sweet fruit

and came within, wondering,

shy of alarm,

scant of courage,

whelmed with love,

witless with lust.

I am every lover that you ever took or thought of;

I am the eye you turned to gaze at me and muse;

I am the black heart that you fear, and

I am the sun that lights it,

luminous as roses,

brilliant as water on rocks,

warm as that sea,

coming to slay shadows.

I would give you, for the black heart's cure,


the joy that you have given me—

not that I can spare the gift,

not that I don't want it,

but because it is most prized. If

I swear to give you all, how can

I hold back the thing I prize the most?

I would give you back that joy,

the light you poured in me

like wine to an aging cask.

Taste this, the sweetness of this, and

know me your child, born the day

you said "I love you" to

a dying man and,

like Lazarus,

he rose, revived,

stretched arms baby-pink

to a warm new sun.

Know me your brother, lover, friend:

The haven of your peace—

a selfish haven

longing to be filled

with what you think

an imposition

when you give.

The rock you can root to,

stone grateful,

in its sterile antiquity,

for the tender green;

stone steadfast by nature, not choice;

stone enlivened by what you think

an imposition

when you give.

The cracked vessel sealed with your love:

know me that too, crazed and useless

less your sweet glaze to seal me,

heal me, penetrate the dry fragilities

and restore, finish me.

Impose your love on me.

I would give it all back,

that joy you gave me,

every moment of these scant days;

I would give it all,

heart's gift,

healing gift,

pearl without price—

only just for my pearl—

and I would be repaid past justice

if it did for you half

what it did, first given,

for me.

Did I say, in all those words,

I love you?

Poetry Writing Dancing Badger