Invaded by souls

“…but I'm always being invaded by others' souls
so I can't see my own soul very well”
-Shuntaro Tanikawa

One night you fall asleep with an ungiven kiss
on your lips, you fall asleep in your kiss.
It is like sending yourself on an all night errand
to interview echos about where they think
they're coming from. Where did it come from
anyway, your falling-asleep kiss?
your good-for-eternity soul?
How do you know they aren't imposters,
Your unclouded kiss, your sublimated-soul?

To kiss and return a kiss is to be invaded
by souls, like a dead artist or a living poet,
like a set of twin sails of a ship in its sky-filled
sex act with the wind. Sometimes
we are taken charge of by the freedom of all those stones
children threw at nothing into the sky or into
the ocean from the Stone Age onward. We are
invaded by souls. We can't hold ourselves back
from each other then.

And besides, you've fallen asleep in your kiss.
Suddenly you are in a railway station
in a state of undress, naked except for your kiss
which, like your soul, is invisible and ungiven.
A whistle blows like a missed rendezvous with
the rest of your life. Souls are rushing past and into you
out of the vast Everything.

There is a dark frame around this absence
called “the dream.” You are trying to exit
the wrong way down a stairwell invaded by souls.

You'd like to kiss your way out of this like a ganster
of the Starry Moment, but there are too many of them,
these lonely, imperishable souls rushing at you
Full of desire and paradox, with wide pockets
of illumination and, as if to prove this is an American
dream and these are American souls,
some are riddled with bullets, cosmetically
punctuated with a a certain brutal frankness.

But our capacity for love belongs to the birdsong
of antiquity which cleanses our dream-eyes and
allows them to mix moonlight with starlight
in those phosphorescent kisses multitudes
of plankton give the night.
They kiss with their whole beings, invisibly
sucking the fingertips of the dream's halflife.
Your own soul is in there too
filling up its tank on Infinite Joy and Diversity.
I don't know what else to tell you, except
you'll know when it happens.
A certain restless undulation as with waves
under fog, It's the souls, moving in.

-Tess Gallagher

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