Solstice, Mistress

June 21, 2011

What is death in the circus? That depends on if it is spring.
Then, if elephants are there,
mon père, we are not completely lost.
—Kenneth Koch

Mistress Solstice, why not stir up
the air with our vocal chords?
Why not say… I give you the grace
of a handsome man.
Why not speak
as humans do, alone, with all
the power of a self? You force us outside of
our self. We cannot be the clouds,
we cannot be the rain. You force us to be words,
words that matter, words that must explain.

For I would tell you of the elephants,
how they stomp the ground to make earth tremble,
and how the problem with poetry is that
you have to write it down.
You have to go outside and stand
in the clearing, wait for the rain,
pretend to take notes, copious notes,
God step at the margins of thought
(pace Robert Duncan). And it’s dark.
And the gods may not be listening.
Or they may all be laughing.

O Mistress Solstice…
you’re just a rift across the sky,
a tear the atmosphere can’t bear.
Listen to the rain as her footprints come before you.
Listen for the solstice, listen for her shadows,
for the shadows shiver and my mother sleeps and sleeps…
You’re just a rift across the sky,
a tear in the atmosphere.
I give you the grace of a handsome man,
for I would tell you of the elephants,
how they weigh against the eternity of the sky.

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