Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lines Written in a Time of Plague

These sidewalks in their vicious swim converge
in living eyes, join as if by choice
at their appointed sliver of horizon,
as though some master of the renaissance
were at his spattered box of mulled earths
enforcing the relentless laws of light.
But us? We see no diminishment of space,
no stigmatic, scumbled atmosphere,
only vast, disencumbered parallels,
the lucid trigonometry of changeless time.

We bubbled once in that seductive flame;
distracted by the rumors of eternal pain
or everlasting bliss, we measured both
against our crabbed, circumstantial spasms,
our dawns quotidian dreams of paradise,
our evenings, iridescent slicks in the skies,
exhaustive illustrations of irrevocable doom.
While we lived, we lived for further torments,
submerged in parched fevers, soaking chills,
emerged to this innocence you can’t forgive.

You would have recognized us, had you looked,
could now, but we are vacancy itself,
space made vaguely luminous with loss,
the blank surface of a table, silence in a bed,
the thin synaptic echo in the eyeless night
of kindred voice, fingers poised to touch.
We are shimmer in a stranger’s hair,
a bookmark, empty chair, keys, a cup.
One by one we leave you, faithless friends,
to comprehend the winter settled in your blood.

Remember how it was before the fall?
Before the chromosomal sarabande
enchanted the abyssal peace of reachless Eden
with those first grand assertive chords?
Before the first stately cadence rippled
through your drop of sea and bid you dance?
Remember? You were the garden and the tree,
you were the very fruit of paradise.
Was it God or serpent found your hiding place,
tricked you to the chill delirium of time?

No. The peace that passes understanding
isn’t given us to memorize.
We lose the flavor of eternity,
like the taste of pomegranate seeds
we nibbled on a picnic long ago,
familiar but beyond recall, until
we taste again and in the moment know
fruit, birdsong, forest, scent of wine.
So it is with our return to bliss;
we wander off, find ourselves at home.

Strayed to the point of absolute convergence,
we leave you in the wilderness of time,
eyes still averted from the thin line
where earth and sky, past and future meet,
where knowledge disillusions fact, fades
to the fundamental charge and countercharge
from which we sprang, unformed, pure potential
clothed in an exquisite agony of flesh.
Save your tears for wounds worth the salt.
Cry, if you must, for those still to be born.

Or cry for those on the outskirts of the miracle,
for whom our blue-white flash of being
is a slow siege of fevers in bottomless dark,
a constant quarrel in the legions of the blood
for territory no force can hold,
the cells’ most secret, human core.
Cry too for the sequestered, citadel spirits,
bricked in cells of consummate integrity,
safe from any particle which might invade
to dim their one brief moment in the light.


Roberta said...

I had to read this one three times. Deep, very deep. Lovely!

John said...

Thanks, Roberta. It's not an easy one to read, or like.