for David Silverman

You live within each other yet,
the two of you forever
hitching down from the Smokies
on a misty spring morning to the beach.

You with your fiddle and backpack
and him with his pillowcase
of books and clothes, his sixty-five
dollar guitar and a whiskey named George.

Within each other because your bodies
are made of music and memories:

You follow the plunge of a dare
from a high cliff in Texas
into the cold Pedernales;

In the abandoned shell of a silver trailer
in Arizona, rests a black bible
with a cover-hole burnt
by the candle of the midnight vision you shared;

Outside the falling cabin in Mogollon,
your friendship lingers
within an old piece of burly maple,
under a box elder guarded by a huge lizard;

The first woman between you was fierce Kali,
in her love of all manliness dancing
the stars away at White Sands,
attended by curious tarantulas;

The last woman between you was pale Salome,
and you both baptized with water.

His body, yours,
Tom Paine's body
Magginni's dead black soul.

He disappeared in Hopi land
on the trail of a turquoise thunderbird.

That first year, away in the Cascades,
as the first snow fell on apple orchards,
you dreamed of him riding a purple tortoise
across a silent zone in Torreon.

Once, riding a boxcar in Idaho,
you met one who met him
in a bus station in Guatemala,
with a girl and a mandolin.

The cowboy hat he gave to you in Tulsa
you lost shooting the Colorado.
He found the feather from it
near the ocean in California.

By the fireside of the first house you've owned,
north of Missoula, you send him a wire
of trills and double notes,
your horsehair bow furiously telegraphs
the catgut,
purfled glory sounds the living depths.

With a glass of old George,
Sunday's paper shrivels atop dying embers;
will heart wood still dance as it burns?

table of contents