May 3, 2013

Transposition

This poem recently won an award here.

I.

Like a woman from a Once-upon-a-time, who had a child
in a lonely prison cell, that was clammy all year round
for seven years, while she waits and draws him pictures
on the walls, to teach him what the world outside is like;
the one he’s never seen, not even in his dreams.

Out of charcoal from old fires she conjures the magic pictures
building cities in the sunlight, putting ships upon the ocean
growing gardens full of rose trees, setting planets into motion
sprouting forests on the knees of the misty Pyrenees.

Until one day she realizes he doesn’t understand, and he
thinks the world outside is made of skeletal black lines.
She cannot make him see it, and through festering frustration
she exclaims in agitation, “But it’s not like that at all!”
and his picture of the world dissolves into a vacancy.

II.

Sunburned breezes in the clover, moonlight prancing on the water,
and the shadows on a swallow’s ashy wings – these are the things
that cannot be explained or understood until you see them,
the things that simply have to be rejected or believed.

Kiss of unconnected minds, the erotic sacramental, the
quintessence of inertia-splitting dreams – these are the things
at risk of being lost in translation. No amount of explanation
from the people at the window can convince the rest of us
that they’re larger than our minds, made of more than lines.

We are the Flatlanders, watching from the wrong dimension
rehearsing our incontrovertible syllogistic reductionism
to keep from being taken in again, forgetting that we can
analyze all the facts and miss the metamorphosis.

III.

Agnus Dei (qui tollis peccata mundi) miserere nobis,
because You know that this is all we have to work from –
these fugitive extrapolations from the ineffable ambiguity
of a few nebulous moments, an incredible concoction of
ridiculous cell-quivering laughter blown from the back

of the restless stars, and the numinous nausea flowering
out of orchestral suite #3 in D Major, along with
all the unreasonable tears. Maybe we are not so much to blame
for our startled skepticism when the things beyond thought

are converted into movements of atoms, transplanted into
this world of boring desk-jobs and broken TV sets, incarnated
into flimsy melanotic bodies, hereafter vehicles of beatitude,
transposed into words and symbols and impossible molecules
of bread. This is the miracle of the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

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