When God says, I could give you
the whole world, but would you take it?
he’s expecting No, since I am the alleged
immigrant at the feast, but I say Yes.
Go ahead, give me the world.
But that happened already at my birth.
Now I believe only in California,
dressed in flames each scarlet,
smoky year. A paradise built
on fault lines. Like my life, split
at seventeen. Or my soul, a burglar
breaking through the clouds. Not even
the body remains our native country.
Leaving me only the inaccurate
loss of homeland, a place where you go
to die. By nineteen I had a plan:
word by word I would dissolve
into the thousand-year-old
town where I was born,
an old Viking river port,
the river wide as history --
In the fortress-like cathedral,
walls four feet thick, underworld-cold,
above the crown of thorns,
me that shivering dove;
me the bowing of the wind
in the tales of linden trees;
in the empty granaries,
blinding dance of dust and light.
Meanwhile I’ll take the world.