January 1, 2009
Jan 1, 2009
A tinny angelus rings in your ear.
Is this the message from the Great Unknown?
A secret raven? A red sky? Signs of the times?
The “dark place” where most people don’t want to go?
Or are they merely selling the weather?
Wreathed in sea-smoke, Leukothea, the white goddess,
Speaks to you (in archaic Greek) of calculus,
The “lack” in lilac, lyrical blue milk of the mother.
“A hand passes over flowing water,” she says,
“You are moved by your motion.
Yet only the golden string knows where it is going.”
& looking up from his book, the counting master replies,
“The sleep-maker listens for a foot on the stairs.
Jews of One Lemon, Nothing can save you.”
While schooling, like mass hysteria, has its advantages
As the full moon rises over the spawn,
All the losses begin rolling in—bright spaces of absence,
& that metal taste under the tongue,
An obol for the ferryman, interpreter of silences.
Wandering calendar, angry river,
I know “No one goes out to buy zero fish,”
Yet if we lift the veil & look beneath
We see amphibian ghosts, departed quantities,
Insistent whispering of infinitesimals, & echoing back to us
“Time like an ever-rolling stream . . .”
What stirs? Where did you go? How do men bear it?
We do not know. Cursed till the God come,
We wager a penny for a bushel of wheat, a penny for
Three bushels of barley, wait with the reckoner of lines
For the knock at the door. No doubt each of us
Has stroked the sooty black cock in the dark room,
Entertained an angel unawares.
Who has clean hands? The gloved guardian stealing from his ward?
Under the bright cloak, we are all thieves.
A white cuff shoots from a sleeve;
The whirring machine factors equations to nothing.
In our reveries our bodies strike us
As the periphery of a circle whose center is “i.”
Served & severed, the little soul wavers—
Animula vagula blandula—&
We bear a message we cannot read.
Each night in sleep the ship that carries us
Is pulled apart, peg by peg, & every waking day rebuilt
Out of new matter in the old form. Always arriving,
We go on & on with our ghostly cargo,
Our thin, cold minds receptive as snow . . .
While we have you...
...we need your help. You might have noticed the absence of paywalls at Boston Review. We are committed to staying free for all our readers. Now we are going one step further to become completely ad-free. This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry. It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, help us keep it free for everyone by making a donation. No amount is too small. You will be helping us cultivate a public sphere that honors pluralism of thought for a diverse and discerning public.
January 01, 2009