Notes for the Translation of an Ancient Fragment Notes for the Translation of an Ancient Fragment
[She?] pale curtain fire behind it scent of split rock [She] as wind slendered in grass [She] soft path down which [Unknown refrain] Roughened blue [of eyes, of waters?] Steel [of her voice, of weather?]… Apple [her skin? its white cliffs/sting?] the cricket [cricket] climbing All this! [O She!] [Unknown refrain] Sea so blue [a handful, blue] Those glass lips say I shouldn’t say this her blouse slips dawn [or down] Sound [verb] with wide-eyed hands [Unknown refrain] She throws [we throw?] live flowers on fire they [flowers or limbs?] blend smooth as flames Though high stars circling will [how long how long?] pick our bones clean [Unknown refrain]
To the Next Centuries To the Next Centuries
Is there autumn there, is there leaf smoke, is the air blued and mapled, oaked and appled and wined, is that tang, that ache for who knows? gone from your sweaters and hair? Are there trees even, do they break out in uncontrollable cold fires, do they shatter in long, unreal downstreamings, is October the same without them, is our sadness so river-and-wind swift, and so free, is it still our sharpest seeing, if we have not learned from them how to be taken apart, how to be blown away? Are clouds the same, are they still our clouds if leaves have never seethed against them on a tempestuous night, are they wild, is the moon the same if it has never wildly sailed through wild clouds, is there a Hunter’s Moon, a Blood Moon tinged with the rust and incandescence of the leaves, is there a moon at all, a hanging stone, a white astonishment, the exile’s breath on a pane? There is sun, I am sure—has it grown more dangerous, has its shine through thin ozone whited out your eyes, does it drive dunes through your forests, has it warmed the seas to exactly body temperature? What is it like to have won and won and won, no mile without its grid of roads, no block unwired, no handswidth without wireless, when every breeze has been rebreathed each current steered, each cliff a mirror? Is there no wild desire, no wild with all regret because no animals are wild, because the hills are leveled and the valleys raised because there is no clear and endless sky? And what has endangered my imagination that imagines you pale and bodiless and scanned, not a shadow left in your floodlit brain, your sleep hard in coming, dreams shallow and bright? Why do I see you in a white room floating among machines and drips and feeds as if you were my dead, who went before me on white boats launched into the future, as if you were me, when I am tired, as I am tired now, tired of the expertise that says there is nothing new, no thoughts or feelings not already words, no words I have not said again and again, thinking how long this trip has been, so near its end that I will never again put down new roots, change jobs, raise children, fall in love. I can lighten my suitcase now, discarding my ticket, since there is no return, the map of the city I’ll never get back to, the little blue phrase book for the language I’ll never speak again, the sweater, the half-read novel, the comb, the end of this thought.... I know you will never hear the squeak of a mail box, church bells (already quaint here), a van graveling around a turn, a CD (surely gone). I won’t ask (couldn’t endure to know) are there birds there still building the dawn. I know you can’t hear the wind I’m hearing though there will be winds, the song that’s blowing me away, though there will be song after song. And you can’t hear this, though you, like me, will lose what seems like everything and go on, cry against your weariness with leaves and moon and wind, or whatever passes then for moon and leaves and wind, cry out against death and the dead world, the dead world, and the death in you, until, like me, you can stand again unborn, unused, unknown.