Corinne de Winter

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Swallowing Light
For Jonathon

From out of nowhere the stars
And stars for miles burn their time
In an allegiance of desire,
A gift of longing

That is constantly being born.
Music alone remains, a guitar
Stringing the moments
Into some kind of semblance.

What can I do for you,
The only son of a deserter who gave me
Goosebumps and vertigo by moving too fast.
How often you wished on stars

That were already dead.
With all of your effort you will not burn
Like those stars, shining years later
In the atmosphere falsely,

The beggars crawling from their shelter
To count on you.
Perhaps one day the lovers you left dry
Will come to moisten your black mouth

With fruit and rain,
To finally conclude the red
Initiation of your kiss.
For you there will be no shortness of breath.

For you there will be no singular suffering,
Only the tide receding permanently,
The brown and purple of nostalgia
Tainting the strange and the familiar.

You will not be like those others
Eating their hearts out for religion or love.
Your hounds, damp with nature,
Will prove loyal. All of them.
The future is everything.
I'll give you divinations.
Overwhelmed on some gold November night.
You will enter a chapel for warmth

And hear Ave Maria sung from the balcony
By an intoxicated, melancholy man.
You will laugh, sing a few lines,
Wipe a solitary tear from your eye.

It will not be your beloved who discovers
The constellation of beauty marks on your body,
But a nameless whore
You met at the fruit stand on the corner.

The past is everything.
I'll give you recollections.
Back when the sidewalk cement on Main Street
In your home town had yet to dry,

When you were still a humble boy
You carved your name with a stick
And left one hand print.
This was your only immortality.

Years later the recurring scene
From that Plutonian summer of our reunion
Is one lone sunflower towering
By the kitchen sink and falling.
With the glass over and over.
Picking it up each time I felt small,
Like Alice when she obeyed the note
That made her shrink.

I continued that way,
Unable to reverse alienation
As another raw season
Healed over the last.

In the hour of confrontation and cleansing
Your skin was soft as the feathers
On the breast of a newborn bird,
As the down of a dead dandelion

Children make wishes on.
Your hand reached mine in a gesture
Of understanding. Shapeless and cool
My palm felt against yours,

My tears staining the ivory of your sleeve.
Your hand reached mine,
The hand of the failed lover.
From beyond the walls

I heard a pigeon with two hearts,
A restless dog in the orange groves
Where the fruit leaned gently,
Polished by the moon.

I heard the old Spanish woman sing softly
On the front steps,
The tapping of a warped screen door.
I heard all the questions your silence was hatching.

I hardly moved from the edge of the bed
Before daybreak came.
South forever.
The cawing of immaculate black crows.

How you slept soundly on and on
Into the dark courtyards and rising grey pillars
Of the next evening
Without once changing position.

In this I understood
The sum of your inheritance,
How the mornings were ashen
When we awoke already settled

Like the frozen figures of Pompeii,
Unharmonious and overcome.
(Meanwhile the sisters warning me again
Of shadows and tragic adventure,

Mockingly in one ear)
What a comfort they were.
Why this burning then?
My meditations were simple, my confessions candid.

I was soft in the negotiations.
I did not censor the obscene.
I made music out of you.
I made poetry from you.


The passage of time witnessed
The skull evolving, the warm blooded
Creatures blooming and growing extinct.
The human touch proved to be a dangerous act.

I am knee deep in the history of things,
Contemplating the conclusion, the nature
Of farewells and chance meetings.
From out of nowhere the stars

And stars for miles burn their time
In an allegiance of desire.
Here we go.
South forever.
The End of Desire

The door is ajar
with an amber light inside.
There is a white gardenia in my hair
and I am waiting
for your mouth
to spell me out.
Like diamond dust the snow
fell that night I held
your face in my hands
and told you
sin isn't rare anymore.
Why I dreamed there was a serpent
in my heart
coiled in the shape
of your initials.
Every home
turns to leaves and ashes.
Dirty reflections
and dry offerings.
After the end of desire
even birdsong
had become an unnatural thing.

Martyr, Do You Dream?

Martyr, do you dream of what if
while watching the girls
conspire about love on the corner?
You are caught up in symbols
Of obscenity.
But Sweetheart, if you were a bird
black & swift above the horizon
you would know how small
the heart of a stranger
can be.
It Is Only

As a child you grew
Rare and wild-
One cheek toward the sun,
The other shadowed like a moonflower
At a lunar eclipse.

Now it is only your voice
and the bells of Saint Matthews,
and the gospel after midnight.
Now it is the coming of Autumn
and the slow declension
of a dying light.

Now it is only
the silence of thee,
the prayer of an old man,
the tattooed crucifix
and the quarter moon
hanging like a scythe
in the trees.

Now it is only your voice
that returns to me.

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