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Someone From Another Life

Posted Feb 24 2012 6:25pm
"Dire one and desired one, 
Savior, sentencer— 

In an old allegory you would carry 
A chained alphabet of tokens: 

Ankh Badge Cross. 
Dragon, 
Engraved figure guarding a hallowed intaglio, 
Jasper kinema of legendary Mind, 
Naked omphalos pierced 
By quills of rhyme or sense, torah-like: unborn 
Vein of will, xenophile 
Yearning out of Zero. 

Untrusting I court you. Wavering 
I seek your face, I read 
That Crusoe's knife 
Reeked of you, that to defile you 
The soldier makes the rabbi spit on the torah. 
"I'll drown my book" says Shakespeare. 

Drowned walker, revenant. 
After my mother fell on her head, she became 
More than ever your sworn enemy. She spoke 
Sometimes like a poet or critic of forty years later. 
Or she spoke of the world as Thersites spoke of the heroes, 
"I think they have swallowed one another. I 
Would laugh at that miracle." 

You also in the laughter, warrior angel: 
Your helmet the zodiac, rocket-plumed 
Your spear the beggar's finger pointing to the mouth 
Your heel planted on the serpent Formulation 
Your face a vapor, the wreath of cigarette smoke crowning 
Bogart as he winces through it. 

You not in the words, not even 
Between the words, but a torsion, 
A cleavage, a stirring. 

You stirring even in the arctic ice, 
Even at the dark ocean floor, even 
In the cellular flesh of a stone. 
Gas. Gossamer. My poker friends 
Question your presence 
In a poem by me, passing the magazine 
One to another. 

Not the stone and not the words, you 
Like a veil over Arthur's headstone, 
The passage from Proverbs he chose 
While he was too ill to teach 
And still well enough to read, I was 
Beside the master craftsman 
Delighting him day after day, ever 
At play in his presence—you 

A soothing veil of distraction playing over 
Dying Arthur playing in the hospital, 
Thumbing the Bible, fuzzy from medication, 
Ever courting your presence, 
And you the prognosis, 
You in the cough. 

Gesturer, when is your spur, your cloud? 
You in the airport rituals of greeting and parting. 
Indicter, who is your claimant? 
Bell at the gate. Spiderweb iron bridge. 
Cloak, video, aroma, rue, what is your 
Elected silence, where was your seed? 

What is Imagination 
But your lost child born to give birth to you? 

Dire one. Desired one. 
Savior, sentencer— 

Absence, 
Or presence ever at play: 
Let those scorn you who never 
Starved in your dearth. If I 
Dare to disparage 
Your harp of shadows I taste 
Wormwood and motor oil, I pour 
Ashes on my head. You are the wound. You 
Be the medicine."

-Pinsky
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