The trip west.
—I think I dreamed that trip.
They talked a lot of “rose rocks”
or maybe “rock roses”
—I’m not sure now, but someone tried to get me some.
(And two or three students had.)
She said she had some at her house.
They were by the back door, she said.
—A ramshackle house.
An Army house? No, “a Navy house.” Yes,
that far inland.
There was nothing by the back door but dirt
or that same dry, monochrome, sepia straw I’d seen everywhere.
Oh, she said, the dog has carried them off.
(A big black dog, female, was dancing around us.)
Later, as we drank tea from mugs, she found one
“a sort of one.” “This one is just beginning. See—
you can see here, it’s beginning to look like a rose.
It’s—well, a crystal, crystals form—
I don’t know any geology myself …”
(Neither did I.)
Faintly, I could make out—perhaps—in the dull,
rose-red lump of (apparently) soil
a rose-like shape; faint glitters … Yes, perhaps
there was a secret, powerful crystal at work inside.
I almost saw it: turning into a rose
without any of the intervening
roots, stem, buds, and so on; just
earth to rose and back again.
Crystallography and its laws:
something I once wanted badly to study,
until I learned that it would involve a lot of arithmetic,
that is, mathematics.
Just now, when I saw you naked again,
I thought the same words: rose-rock, rock-rose …
Rose, trying, working, to show itself,
forming, folding over,
unimaginable connections, unseen, shining edges.
Rose-rock, unformed, flesh beginning, crystal by crystal,
clear pink breasts and darker, crystalline nipples,
rose-rock, rose-quartz, roses, roses, roses,
exacting roses from the body,
and the even darker, accurate, rose of sex—