The Works of Sara Berkeley, Part 2
Facts About WaterBe ready for the flood, they said.
I gathered my skirts. No flood came.
Beware the danger that comes with a man,
They said. I waited for the fall.
In blinding light
He stumbled to us from the stones.
Was this the man? He fell at our feet,
Fire, famine, flood.
Give him his name, they said.
I was drawn to the man, I told him
This is your name, and then he was all I saw,
The first I knew of endless, immeasurable calm,
The whole struggle over and done.
I had expected pain, instead
He treated me with care, folding and wrapping,
I had never been given before.
He gave me to myself, said without saying
Love if you will, but be warned,
I have very little.
Here was a man without the anchor of dreams.
He blinked in the sun, he hardly seemed
At home in his set of bones. I felt his uncontrol
Reined in with a shaky hand. I said,
If you need me in the night call out.
Trains run beneath my house.
His flame flickered, but did not go out,
I conjured a green field to steady him,
No gate, no way in or out,
But a cool mile of young grass
And four spare dry stone walls
To hold him in.
I had never held anyone in before.
In return, he brought me to his shore,
He wrote in the sand
Facts about water.
Minim, fathom, barrel, cord,
Magnum, gallon, jeroboam.
He said, when you wake far out,
Dream a boat, and with these things
Make good your return, and he wrote:
Sextant, compass, dipstick, dial,
Plumb, octant, nautical mile.
He left me sleeping, I woke without fear,
In a rigged vessel, sails and mast,
I dreamed my way to dry land,
Acre, arpent, section, square,
League, light-year, township, are.
Cowboy Café, Sixty Four Miles AheadYou drove faster as I fell,
stirred my rapid dreams,
I woke as we sped towards a wooden bridge,
it seemed to span
the world of sound and the world of space;
you spun us around, you laughed and said
we were winning the human race.
Pahrump, Nopah, the big Death Valley in white stone
set in the hillside just beyond Shoshone,
Next Services 51 Miles
across the Amargosa, through the Owlshead hills.
We took one seventy eight
through Salsberry Pass at three thousand feet,
snow made the rocks
fill out the shapes the Navajo had named,
the devil passed us,
mounted the cloud banks, vanished
in a livid line, where the day went.
The earth grew tiny, blue-green
in our rear-view mirror,
winter blew out her cold smoke in a thin stream,
my doppelgänger urged us on,
I turned the music up
till the demon writhed in her cage,
gave up her ghost.
I called everyone in the world
but the confusion
Cold as a queen on her king size bed
I had to have more truth;
at Dante’s View you gave me the devil’s telescope,
nothing between me and the six thousand stars,
Nova Cygni, a violent brother among the girls,
and ahead, the primitive road, the Badwater,
all browns and greys, and februaries.