Memories of Earth
Quando cœlie movéndi sunt, et terra
That was years ago – we
unwove the helix.
Down in the cement garden
moths taste the bindweed
& in the moonlit steel garden
Death’s-heads sup on wild-rose.
It’s that same ol’ moon –
spinning culm, reeling
her shape through space
& shedding ash.
Airships crest the wasted city
in the ecstasy of souls
& below, below, that rusted
chrysalis – the Chrysler.
Sir Thomas Wyatt
We chased you but you fled from us –
We chased you through a field
of stars, down the alley of space, into
a corner. When we saw the corner,
hard cold regularity, aloof & lonely,
we knew – Deus Absconditus –
You can’t be seen with eyes.
On my last night on earth
I dreamt of Boethius
The philosopher – in his dim
Roman closet – imagined
music as friction – the whine
of stellated disks spinning
against ether, like the gears
of a supernal squeezebox.
I dreamt that he put down
his pen & opened the door
of his closet, onto darkness.
Was it heavenly music he heard?
Can it be heard with ears of flesh?
I do not dream anymore, or
perhaps my mind forgets, lest –
Marius von Senden
Blind eyes, stripped of their cataracts,
smart with the new sight
& the newly-sighted
scream Turn Out The Lights!
I do not want to see –
So it was, in space – when we
peeled off the skin of heaven, &
found there was no skin at all. Only –
the new sight cannot be shuttered,
& the lights can never – go out.
Monologue of a Lady
cryonically revived in the hope that men,
like seeds, are not buried, but sown
When I came back it was wrong.
Wrong as when, before, my own legs
under water – blue, pallid – rubber-wrong –
I awoke in air, above a stag planet, under
a darkened casement, ship-casketed.
The patient explanations of why my nerves
are dead – as a leper’s – and my taste –
The touch of cloth is like the touch of pot-
water that floats the boiled egg. Sulfurous.
I feel no hurt no harm no pain only – memory.
I bite the sheet & cry; bite the sheet & shriek
for the touch of a peculiar hand, for
the bitter oranges of Spain – and its wine.
Monologue of a Gentleman
on the night of his death,
in New America, Gaia
I sit in my study & think of my
grandmother: how she grasped
me with hands, old & soft –
& washed me in a tin tub far away
on Earth. The rose smell of her
& the bar of soap. A cold morning
– new snow, new ice, new trees –
Smell of snow-wet wool, steam,
& the metallic voice of water.
Her hands, rich with wrinkles, skin thin
as that thing – a rich thing – crêpe de chine –
She knew strange things she never said
but carried, as a queen her
mantle – & I believe she saw
the future: a place without
crêpe de chine, tin-baths, roses.
She died full of memory.
Her eyes closed on trees.
I sleep in my Gaian bed & dream
of my grandmother – dust now as her
land is dust, & think of how we can’t
stop naming things after the old women.
The Testimony of Quentin Applewood
We did it for the love of your voice
the child voice that came to us
clarinet-cool, when we too were children.
We pushed our frail barks
into the galactic ocean, hoping
to harvest the seed sown in secret
in the year of our Lord, 1977.
On our way we saw many things.
Planets where the placed foot
shriveled like a poisoned apple
Planets where tall peaks, unmoored
wagged at the unblinking black
Planets where nor feet nor peaks
could stand, having no solidity
We longed, like Odysseus, for
the touch of Telemachus’s hand
Like Jacob, promised the touch
of Joseph’s hand, to close our eyes.
We knew (did we let ourselves know?)
that time yawned between us
that the ocean gaped between us
that when we got to you,
neither of us would be children
& only God’s hand
would remain to close our eyes.