Ponderous. The chimes of a clock.
“Render unto Caesar ... render unto God...”
someone like me to dock?
Where’11 I find a lair?
like the ocean of oceans little,
on the tiptoes of waves I’d rise,
I’d strain, a tide, to caress the moon.
Where to find someone to love
of my size,
the sky too small for her to fit in?
Were I poor
as a multimillionaire,
it’d still be tough.
What’s money for the soul? –
of all the Californias isn’t enough
for my desires’ riotous horde.
I wish I were tongue-tied,
like Dante or Petrarch,
able to fire a woman’s heart,
reduce it to ashes with verse-filled pages!
and my love
form a triumphal arch:
through it, in all their splendour,
leaving no trace, will pass
the inamoratas of all the ages!
as quiet as thunder,
how I’d wail and whine!
One groan of mine
would start the world’s crumbling cloister shivering.
I’d end up by roaring
with all of its power of lungs and more –
the comets, distressed, would wring their hands
and from the sky’s roof
leap in a fever.
If I were dim as the sun,
night I’d drill
with the rays of my eyes,
all by my lonesome,
build up the earth’s shriveled bosom.
On I’ll pass,
dragging my huge love behind me.
feverish night, deliria-ridden,
by what Goliaths was I begot –
I, so big
and by no one needed?
I do not want a plain box, I want a sarcophagus
With tigery stripes, and a face on it
Round as the moon, to stare up.
I want to be looking at them when they come
Picking among the dumb minerals, the roots.
I see them already--the pale, star-distance faces.
Now they are nothing, they are not even babies.
I imagine them without fathers or mothers, like the first gods.
They will wonder if I was important.
I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit!
My mirror is clouding over ---
A few more breaths, and it will reflect nothing at all.
The flowers and the faces whiten to a sheet.
I do not trust the spirit. It escapes like steam
In dreams, through mouth-hole or eye-hole. I can't stop it.
One day it won't come back. Things aren't like that.
They stay, their little particular lusters
Warmed by much handling. They almost purr.
When the soles of my feet grow cold,
The blue eye of my turquoise will comfort me.
Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots
Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.
They will roll me up in bandages, they will store my heart
Under my feet in a neat parcel.
I shall hardly know myself. It will be dark,
And the shine of these small things sweeter than the face of Ishtar.
In the stone church
of Lesser Towne,
Joan of Arc, Lorraine’s maid,
prostrate on the transept floor,
her womb, a sacred sepulcher
of slandered witches.
As French armies fall, she prays
in a chapel where walls rage
with men-crushing dragons,
dead children hanging
on knights’ silver shields,
Savior dragging gilded cross,
horses flying into heaven,
and a spiked halo
on a statue of the Bishop.
Her mother, the organist,
and her father, the janitor,
dissuade Joan from listening
to the Angels who exhort her:
Beat the English.
March to Paris.
Send a hot epistle
to the Bishop of Beauvais,
insisting he remain
a loyal Frenchman.
A letter ignored at first,
then saved for her burning.
At her trial,
the Bishop’s accusation:
Joan dresses as a man.
Her last words, a simple query:
How can a woman fight a war,
if she wears a dress?
All day long, all through the night,
all affairs--yours, ours, theirs--
are political affairs.
Whether you like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.
Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you don't say speaks for itself.
So either way you're talking politics.
Even when you take to the woods,
you're taking political steps
on political grounds.
Apolitical poems are also political,
and above us shines a moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it troubles the digestion
it's a question, as always, of politics.
To acquire a political meaning
you don't even have to be human.
Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil,
or a conference table whose shape
was quarreled over for months;
Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one?
Meanwhile, people perished,
and the fields ran wild
just as in times immemorial
and less political.