Tenderly as one cradles a bowl of water,
he embraced me, and we rose upwards.
Black as night, first mother of songs,
he opened my mouth and images thronged
around me: some pressed themselves
like kisses or worn lace against my arms,
while others I only glimpsed in wing-beat.
Strong as any lover who had caressed me,
he let me sink back into his feathered body
and all the words of his messenger’s heart
resolved into chants and burning candles.
Taut, like wires that support high crosses
on Moscow’s golden domes, he held me.
When I began weeping, he caught my neck
and shoes in the spacious expansion
of his enormous wings, then set me gently
down in my home, among the sleepers,
and dawn drove a pen into my hand.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.