>a pageant

>A Pageant for the Living and the Dead

if this were gingham blankets and carafes of wine I’d still wonder
but I know it’s more
more than a day of graceful postures
more than cool shadows, lounging
it’s all of it
it’s Nineveh and fear and the piercing of the turbulent surface
it’s china horses buried in second century clay
it’s fish idling gently in clear green streaked riffles
it’s the tense and trembling fist clenching Abraham’s knife
and it’s really simply your heart
creating and receiving the wounds of the world
like apples hitting the ground
beautiful hues bruised and bruising
Sunday’s souls Monday to Monday

turning slowly in the quiet stillness I see
on that bedroom wall a barn
in August hanging peacefully;
a Vermeer poster in a second-hand frame;
a black and white café; and suitcases
painted by someone we’ve known,
and beyond that wall
the great wheel turns like a millstone

when the sky is blue
it is the gleaming face of destruction
and down among the roots
in the tangles of soil an ancient vine
threatens our hedges
tangling our hopes with darkness
calling to us from the tomb of this world

some set up stones
some sacrificed
some spilled blood
and when night descended
the sun fought its way through hell

this is the ancient of days
the ever coming of the storm
the swelling of the tender buds

we create beauty to fight death
circling the wagons against the beast of nature

in the beginning
we did not think of cities;
seeking arcadia along the rivers
and in the fertile valleys
collecting goats
corroborating stars
wearing our dreams on our skins

and quickly our sons grew up
and killed each other
oh heavens!
the pyramids never reached you,
not really
and all this is more like a parking lot
than an orchard
but still I see the leaves kicked up

(I am a trunk
hewn and mobile
bone and blood
a serpent and a god
I am viscera
I am pouring forth
I am crawling through
and you
the world
a treachery
a beautiful death
an angel and a sword
a streaming light
can only cast your voice
in the stillness of my desires
like leaves falling in the shadows
of their trees)

so finally
your sorrows never leave you
not even when you’ve left them
not even when you’ve crossed the Alps with elephants
and threatened Rome’s weathered gates
for every move you make is ancient
every step is already dead and still to come
and you can spread that blanket to the corners of the world
until a better feast arrives.

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