Today's poem-of-the-day I thought a fitting choice for those of you who may have spent 3.5 hours this weekend watching a) Yul Brynner be fabulous, and b) Charlton Heston grow a beard. The image you see to the side--mercifully not Mr. Heston--is a print by Segbingway called "Out of their Element," and was featured on the cover of Patricia Young's collection. (Segbingway, as I'm sure you all know by now, is the illustrator for our forthcoming Reasonable Ogre by Mike Barnes.) Enjoy!
from Here Come the Moonbathers, 2008
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose. – Genesis 6: 1-2
I walked a long way in an old pair of sandals
and when I looked up
I saw the fiery shape of a man
revolving in a field of blue space.
My knees locked, my tongue split like a flame.
In those days the world was immaculate
and devoid of memory.
It was difficult to think
the language of birds.
His face emerged slowly,
feature by nascent feature.
And then his neck/chest/thighs –
all perfect, all splendidly formed.
He put on a body of flesh
as though putting on a suit of fine cloth.
Roses bloomed over the dip
of thorny hills and my eye cocked
Standing in the dark, braiding the horse’s mane,
I felt him lean into the blank
pools of my thoughts. He was
clean intelligence, incandescent.
Sex with an angel?
my sister said, pulling
water from the well, her voice
dipped in arsenic.
I no longer knew what I was –
woman or jackal, fish or flying thing.
Where had he come from?
I didn’t know, nor did I ask
if he’d been sent to me as some kind of
balm to the curse of being human.
A restlessness seized him.
He grew pale, spoke of the place he’d forsaken,
his words the same swollen sounds
scratched on the walls outside Eden.
And then the gibberish in his sleep –
the sky bursting open like a goat-skin bottle,
the ark’s wooden doors
Those final days –
walking among the aloe trees,
leaves trembling like my senses.
The nightingale drunk on his beauty.
The giraffe weeping as he passed.
Bees clung to his skin. Everything
from the protozoan to our hybrid son
banging his breakfast bowl on the table
appeared resplendent and tragic.
I understood even the lowest embryo
manifests will, desire, a terrible cunning.
Death by drowning.
Should he have warned me, I whom he could not save?
Should he have whispered that last night of love –
When the rains finally come I will pass through your world like the voice of an animal.