Issue 120, Fall 1991
The windows stream with fish,
the gold luck of carp,
the tiny silver luck of minnows,
while the earth gives back her wealth
of skunks and star-crossed badgers:
pure stripes of seeing unfurl themselves
out of moonlight, and the dark bodies
follow as closely as boat follows sail
and know no harm will come to them in their wholeness.
All beings rise, uncaught, for this beginning.
Cousin Death joins a table at the wedding,
the white cloth gleams, the waiting plates,
all are made welcome.
Mother War smooths the silk of her dress,
she feels young and will dance again, after years,
with her husband‚ Pity.
Still the guests are arriving, carrying gifts—
small appliances, vases, a thick set of towels,
lamps of heaviest brass.
They say each other’s names. Charity, Hope, and ask
of nieces and nephews off to school.
A rabbit edges near, outside the glass.
On the river a barge floats softly, its tugs at slack;
night herons and pelicans preen, an iron bell flames
with the slow ringing fire of rust and the barge imperceptibly
lowers. Imagine nothing created, what it might look like,
try to envision such peace.
Now see the dark-shelled flowers of thought unmade,
the petals of Little Boy unassembled,
the plague-poxed donkeys unflung over city walls, dead
undead, the survivors unlonely. Or think of a world
in which nothing is lost, its heaped paintings,
the studded statues keeping their jewels.
Now see this very world, where all is transformed,
quick as a child who cries and then laughs in her crying—
now ingot, now blossoming ash,
now table, now suckling lamb on that table.
How each thing meets the other as itself, the luminous changing
mirror of itself—mercuric oxide tipped from flask to flask,
first two, then one, wedded for life in that vow.