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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 130-134
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Petronius, and: The City is Wax Combs, and: The Kiss, and: Brightwork / Ave
I.And it is found in every place and at any time and in every circumstance, when the search lies heavy on the searcher– Petronius
Had I been startled?
The rucksack held a cream-colored square of silk
no solution. Bastard cold!
The day of discovery:
I thought of Russian steppes
the river overflowing.
The wind ripped the piece of paper from my hand
Had the adventure overtaken me?
A great talent ruined?
No gunpowder heart racing from dashing up two flights to
the scaffold heart tighter, tighter:
Lost balance stumbled over my own foot.
I pulled out a brass compass from WWI with mother-of-pearl
compass, linked with truth also symbol of duality
& its transcendence: one hand remained fixed in center:
the other makes a complete circle. [End Page 130]
Revolving round me you stared.
Revolving around you I lowered
It had been a long & difficult journey: Abelard & Eloise
Aucussin & Nicolette.
My own came home two busses missed & gone to the wrong
place to renew her driver's license;
Not only the wicket but also the old rose brick turn-of-
century building had moved:
Capitol Iron to Wharf Street.
The cavil over possible rat-teeth marks in the bread wrapper
has died down
I visit a laboratory in Switzerland in my first dream:
glass blue light from the Alps flooding it.
I visit a casualty ward the second dream my head spins an
unidentified man from England.
I almost make sense but that slight dislocation takes all
five senses and throws them aslant.
I have unloaded my belongings in the third dream:
Alone for the second fantasia. One can live with secrets
wrapped around like skins of an onion:
How far can I peel? How far is too far?
Would I lose my core in a heap of cast-off husks? [End Page 131]
III.Plato describes original human beings as round: the poet
with armful of leaves is holding a circle.
But I know better than give a cigarette away.
I turn up my collar walk the other way
smoking the little red fellow for companion.
The City is Wax CombsGlowing one lung two lungs:
with our hiving
Taking the imprint of our living. The North is lonely.
Silk & Bees: buzzing industry.
The greater blue heron, Oriental crumpled feathers, stands on
one leg smoky gray:
Balancing the weight of world & evening.
The beggar rolls on a board with casters: he has no legs.
Castration caused infection
& his legs had to be amputated. See!
Finally the night will bear the letter with sealing wax which
takes the missive to you
from me. [End Page 132]
The KissHooded eyes said, "Kiss." But the mouth was dumb.
Winter star barley spilled from a burn.
Your shoulder had been cut open, dressed.
was closed as a bordertown when a war is on.
Amid shimmering root-garden
who could believe
loss would plumb even greater depths?
An anchor in water
to weigh down.
The lowest hours came: sheep grazing on salt-pastures in
evening: the starved hours – & you fed them.
Brightwork/ AveI give you this: Brightwork:
the birds' breasts embroidered with
dew like dye.
The tapestry finch & the real, teal one
too – singing
during the gravedigger's shift.
on the rim of the night watchman's
hat. [End Page 133]
like drawings for an illustrated botany from the last century:
tracing paper windows protecting them.
I give the War Plants where guns were manufactured &
these plants from the air, like dead flowers on the ground.
I sang all the way to Flatbush – & back into Manhattan.
Wheeling in circles
frosted breath, breaking an orange open with bare hands.
Yule was round the bend:
Phantom-jets thundered above cloudline.
I have proffered you this: Words.