Equinox again. Day’s end—I sit,
at rest, with whiskey, on the porch—
and nightfall, equal, opposite—
and ponder ostriches who, planted
earthwise, feathered as this orchard
is, have donned their planetary
helmet, fishbowl helmet, upside
down. So dizzying. I wish
I understood the calendar
that turns me too, as blind, as blind—
What rest we keep relinquishing!
Now apple trees are paper lanterns
candled by the sun behind
them. Winter, soon. They tear. Wind-torn
a few of them reveal the wick
itself, before it dies. A few spent
bees lift off the porch light, turn
a dazed ecliptic down. They walk
a little on the cold cement;
by morning they’ll have died, no doubt.
By spring the lantern’s light blown out
may light anew, and trees will mend,
as orchard comes to bloom again—
I skirt the bees on my way inside.
I circle too, you see; I’ll ride
the slight curve generated here
out to the very end, to bed,
where breath will fail to close the sphere
of dark-to-light around my head—
Hush, hush, you’ll say, the harsher laws
of motion, dear, can never govern
our emotion. Loss by loss,
so love conserves
—So love’s vernier
is at your touch. I feel its solace
settle here—your arms by turns
encircle me, to stillness, nearly,
for a moment, nightfall turbanned
round and round ... A vernal solstice
at the soul. And then again the veer—

Introduce yourself to The New Criterion for the lowest price ever—and a receive an extra issue as thanks.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 3, on page 46
Copyright © 2019 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
staging.newcriterion.com/issues/1984/11/inertia