Beauty Unframed author Lisa Elmers writes about life, loveliness, and seeing something where you thought there was nothing.

Memories of Earth

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

transmigrating – 


& 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. 

Take Only Pictures

Take Only Pictures