Friday, November 20, 2009

the museum, the prison, the madhouse

in some long still dance of pain
you come to me
in a stone ship, your name undone
to pictures on the prow:
the lion, the hawk, the musician of the court

you stare at me with your blank eyes
and hold one hand free
waiting for the falcon to descend
or a blessing to bracelet it
litanies for suicides & priests

though I cover the mirrors
you are everywhere before me
in the leaf vein cup
of my hands, in the weathered stone
with its face of human grief

in this last asylum you turn
& turn again, bringing feathers & harps of bone
in this dream my lover, in this a death--
the delicate choosings; murder, prayer--
we are both dead beneath our masks

yet in this last we run
like the fallow deer
through the mist on the glass, the brier,
in the mouth of the wind, the wind month
where only the gulls are crying


(the acceptance from Hilda Raz of Prairie Schooner of this poem was waiting for me when I came to northern California many years back. The poem was written during my time in England, a time of many...dramatic life events. I used to spend a lot of time writing in the British Museum, in front of an Egyptian statue. The poem later was anthologized in one of the Borestone anthologies.)

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