The Hollow Breviaries
The hollow breviaries inflate & deflate, like lungs. A lesion in the trees provides what music the poor can afford. Because this is a poem about the poor, what the poor can do for us. They can live in iron houses. They can thread the eye of the sun.
Lessons for Children
The eclipse’s error: silence, horses. I shattered the glass bell of history & with the shards carved a new face. You wouldn’t believe what medals the state tossed at the eclipse. It caught none but lurched slowly into the storm’s ripe grasp. Then we drank to our host, & to his beard. He is like the tzar, meaningless, made of music. He has scattered his apples across the soldiers’ table, he has known his blind bride.
Flesh In All Thy Gates
I waited for the lily to arrive & explain pain to me. A thousand students marched past the monument, which had been tattooed in mud. Then I listened, but heard only the narrow part-songs of the ice, over which my country, like some sun, was setting.
(Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist)
We wrap the bodies of the herons in moist wool. Mostly the wool is white, but there are other patches, whorls of deep blue-grey like Catacleuse stone. It is possible to stroke the bodies of the herons before wrapping them, if only briefly. Because it would not do to be seen standing here stroking the body of a heron too long, in the rain.
To Aleksandr Blok (I)
Nothing is symbolic the doll sees. The doll’s eyes survey the plains with the certainty of salt, of ash. Its eyes are sewn from breath, the doll thinks, from the radiance of tedium. The doll is utterly sincere, because there is only one doll, can only ever be one doll. The plains stretch forth their blank hives in every direction.
To Aleksandr Blok (II)
Again, the golden rut by which the winds cluster, clutching their villages. Winds, winds, I have wept for you, who are my country. I have archived the clangor of your many battles, I have slept in your narrow grave. Here, take these bronze grapes that I have stolen from the eye’s souk, where Latin is still spoken. Your hides are stained with lilies, you wait for the twilight wagons bearing away their unstrung refugees.
St. Mary Of Egypt
First, there should be no images of you. The tombs flock neatly into the high cirques; I hear their tinny bells. We were plunged not into light, but into light’s devastated spiral. We were offered strength, or strength. The wedding party lumbered off into the blond night which lay invitingly, its atlas open. I realise I am lonely only when I am among the animals went the hymn they sang, its folded estate a flash like a white stag. But you, a root with hair & teeth, far from any empire—language was your winterfaith. Not the dust-like shadows of grain, nor blossoms, nor bleeding lips.
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