site map

Living in the Material World George Kalamaras

for George Harrison

How can I ever say your name, George, without bleeding my own dark flower? Gentle rose gardener, in some previous life you fashioned a term for the word salt. Then, one by one, sparrow secretions from the sheets returned to breath, and the axis of earth stopped. Whether a word flexes color from the phlox matters most and doesn’t matter. At least, that’s what the bushmen of the Kalahari believe as they count the legs of centipedes back to a blood ring in their right ear. You knew that sound, George. Sang it sad. Strummed it hopeful. Chanted it toward dissolve. One by one you counted the people who counted their toes, confused, when they heard—through bones of the head—crow tracks in the dust. You who set the owl ablaze in my chest, waking me with memory of what I might make of the joyful sorrow of being alive. Incarnation after incarnation of dust storms I’d once been, of paramecia I grew from in the Gobi, from a goatskin scroll in a Calcutta vase, to the magnificent spine of now. You who navigated the narrow harness, the muscular pulse of the arching neck of a dark horse rivering through rapids of gossip and strain. Even the praise that promised to lock you into the slow spacious blood of expectation, while the world was busy birthing an egg. We loved the same lover, George. Our divine clutch complete, again and again, as we cross ourselves sad from river-mirror to river-mirror, from Sanskrit script among the scrolls of the whirl and the slow blood of an ear, burning up desirous seeds of living in the material world while counting hairs along a centipede’s back. For the many legs of our lives matter most in the reaching out from a center that centers us whole, dark horse in the dark pulsing waves of a seed not unlike the bleeding from a hoof, not unlike the carbon of a bone- burning hide.