By Thomas Page
Teaching Yates in the Autumn
Like the bachelor swan I sit at my monitor to a sea of blank profiles That are five-and-twenty I go over the lyric of a man in his autumn who grew to hate his motherland- The sixtieth swan— Floating in his Charon’s raft across the Irish Sea— With his pen in his graying hand penning the year of tears of the melting snow Lost in his own ivory tower mumbling about perfumed ghosts— The ghosts of love never— Did you know swans mate for life? “What is life then?” Yates may ask “A cool summer looking away at the 10 o’clock dusk; Summer everlasting? What then the winter?” This is the winter of our discontent.
The hoarfrost dusts the fauna cloaked this morn’. Mourn, the chlorophyll lost in the winter Sun sparkling over the ice specks on my car Driving into the January dawn Blinding my oblong’d eyes refracted glass Framed in Prussian blue falling off my nose Marked red by the chill in the frosty air. The hoarfrost melts away like gamma rays.
My room is a sauna— The heart of the sun. Sweat paints my back As if crushed by shells Adorned a torn king’s shroud Pierced by a goth’s spear Bleeds the blood blue oxidizing Turning it all a deadly wet. My mouth’s a desert Full of rocks and scorpions Stabbing salt into my throat A cough in a sandstorm Waiting to drown my lungs in the ascent Of the abyss’ reflection.
What testament can I offer— A Sappho speaking of Penelope— To you both in the dog-dayed-summer of your love? The couples of my study all fall into the pit Which the pendulum of odious intent swipes— The slaughtered calf without its lamplight. There is no plot of a breeze over a pasture Croziered by the bucolic shepherd and shepherdess— The ramblings of urbane poets lost in the city. Love, it seems, is as distant as a star to the naked eye Glimmering the burning gasses into the dark matter of space to the artist— Making castles out of the sand. What testament I do offer— A lyre to a crown— To you both is to start each day anew. Don’t let the rust of yesterday erode the pasture beneath your feet Or the rain eat away at the valley Which you have spent time creating. Let the idyll carry you both Into the paradise of your design— A design together.