Julian Schnabel in His Studio on West 111th Street, from Thrust

 thrust manuscript

You wrote, Out my window now I see morning rain

and some old shoes tied to a fire escape.

 

That was the first day. A year later and the rain

Falls outside my own Brooklyn room,

 

And the mourning doves murmured their songs

In the pocket of my ear. All of a sudden I woke up

 

And it was a new century and glass condos were rising

Where the moon once cradled next to Venus

 

Out on the prairie. Achromatic winter light. Julian Schnabel

Lounging on a couch in his pajamas, a state of undressing,

 

But this is just a photograph,

 

The trace of light on a lens.

And these are just words, the trace of your hand.

 

In the postcard I write back to you

 

I am pressing my hand to your chest. I am touching you, full stop.

 

***

 

There is a river flowing beneath a foreign city, where I was young and still am

Illuminated by lights in an underground tunnel.

 

You could drop your love-letters there in the cold stone water

 

And watch them float away like small boats.

Someone left a euphonium submerged– the water murmurs, it murmurs still,

 

Trips over the valves and tubes, mouthpieces and bells

Into the throat of a hidden song.

 

Not being able to touch is sometimes as interesting as touching

 

We are like these two stone cairns

 

Set apart in separate seas, the waves breaking us down,

Disappearing in the sand, uninhabitable.

 

And I’m some question you refuse to answer.

 

When I finally look in your eyes, I see your gaze

Carding through my skin with its teeth,

Like a comb in the lamb’s fleece.

You bend down before you go and kiss me.

 

Does it exist between our bodies, do you feel it there in the dark,

Some unknowable thing? We’re not naked,

But there’s a nakedness between us.

 

Listen, you can hear

The sound of my breath caught like wing beats against your neck

 

And the hawkmoths and the hummingbird moths in the dark,

 

Tonguing the corolla.