Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Variations On a Round of Rattles

deviant art by millystock


for Robert Kelly


The noise of pebbles in the mouth of someone dead is next to nothing. Underneath the sun a boy is wrestling with his shadow, and his shadow with another shadow. Home is always somewhere else, a rattle and an eagle feather all that’s left. Daylight nearly over. Firelight foreshadowing the night.


Everything the night conceals from us is yet alive. Even the rocks are when they’re stuffed into a rattle and the sound they make surrounds us as the shadow of a cloud might on the way to night. Here in our final home machines like living things cast shadows also, and the year ends with a lonely rattle sound. Spooks bearing bundles run from everything like shadows where we wait and dream.


The business of the dead is spinning shadows, banging leather rattles, faking a language not their own. How good to spend a week away from home, valises packed and ready for a day out in the sun. A rattle makes a sound we love to hear, another rattle leads us where the shadows beckon, and the shadows form a single shadow under which we hide.


13-Death calls out to us. His is a music darker than a radio, so far from home, so fraught with sounds the dead might make, our fallen teachers, eagles screaming through their beaks, who make the ground shake, where we sit around a fire. Is it a rattle or a distant ringing, or a rattle that the dead can hear and join us, shadows overhead and with a lonely rattle far from home?

Jerome Rothenberg

Posted over on his site Poems and Poetics

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