The following poem is from Max Ritvo’s Four Reincarnations, forthcoming from Milkweed Editions on September 30th.
The moon was dark
like it had taken too many pills
to produce light.
The earth fell apart
the many things in it
noticing where they were, and surfacing.
Heaven was a vacuum—
the earth, a dirty carpet.
What is there to say?
All the animals went blind:
the pigs out in the countryside,
and my dear dog who used to fetch.
I wondered, at one point,
if I had in fact killed myself—
if death just meant spending
all your time with your past.
The more there is, the more loss there is—
true not only of the world, but of perceiving it,
even of the imagination sizzling on top of it.
I have a dark bruise on my body
where a tail would come.
If I put pure water in my mouth
and cough it out, it’s mud.
Enoch has written
We are made in His image
but God may have many images.
He may want even more.
Perhaps He is using my body
to remake His
into a kind of thinking dust.
This is, however, an abnegation
of my choice. I am here,
no voices in my ear,
no madness but the one of life—