Tuesday, 9 July 2013

from A Gilded Lapse of Time

Then Gabriel sent down a dream that I stood
Holding a broken-off branch in the wood's heart,
And turning around, I saw the gate built with mud

From the other side, and flights of stairs above my head -
I had passed through it, and the branch I found myself
Holding shrank in my arms and withered away.

Fastened above the gate, a broken honeycomb
Like the concave interior of a death mask
Knocked from an ancestral frieze

Gaped: I had struck it - I had meant only
To open your book, to study poetry's empty beauty,
Not to rest my hand on two featureless tablets of wax

Fashioned with honeycombs in the age of kinds,
The combs a poet touches to his lips,
Seeking to cross the threshold, to signify

A sacred conversation. I had broken
The reliquary of the bee, where she had sifted
Her yellow powder through melismatic generations,

Worlds, numberless lifetimes, seeking to finish
Her combs, to mix a flower-dust paste and fix
One drop to the blank mask of her catacomb,

To the brink of a miniature chasm - we are meant
To open a hive with reverence, but instead
I had broken the hive apart with a branch, and worse,

I had left the honeycomb dripping on the ground
In the wood's heart, a profanity,
Of waste, and the bees whirled into my ears

Their endless sequences, their burning rhymes
I groped among for what I meant to say.
Angels were there, and one of them turned

And struck me when I spoke, and I lifted my hand
And touched the blood on my mouth, and then I saw
They were holding an impression from your face -

Or rather a heavy honeycomb, and your words
Were a streaming of bees floating toward me in sunlight.
When I opened your book, I thought you spoke,

Or else it was Gabriel lifting to my lips
A tablespoon of golden, boiling smoke
So wounding to my mouth I turned back

On the source of poetry, and then I woke.

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