Monday, June 21, 2010

The Chorus Speaks Her Words as She Dances

Painting by Victor Young

The Chorus Speaks Her Words as She Dances

You are perishing like the old men.
Already your arms are gone,
your legs filled with scented straw
tied off at the knee.
Your hair hacked off.
How I wish I could take on
each part of you as it leaves.
Sweet mouse princess.
I would sing like a nightingale,
higher and higher to a screech
which the heart recognizes,
which the helpless stars enjoy--
like the sound
of the edge of grass.

I adore you. I take seriously,
even if I am alone in this.
If you had arms,
you would lift them up I know.
Ah, Love, what knows that?
(How tired and barren I am.)
Mouse eyes.
Lady with white on her face.
What will the world do without you?
What will the sea do?
How will they remember the almond
flowers? And the old man,
smiling, holding up the new lamb;
whom will he hold it up to?
What will the rough men do
after their rounds of drinks
and each one has told his story?
How will they get home without
the sound of the shore anymore?

I think my doll is the sole survivor.
My Buddha mouse moon princess, amputee.
Who still has the same eyes?
With her song that the deer sings
when it is terrified.
Then the rabbits sing, grass sings,
fish, the sea sings: a sound like frost,
like sleet, high keening,
shrill squeak, Zo-on-ha, Kannon.
I hold each side of her deeply
affected face and turn
on the floor.

This song comes from the bottom
of the hill at night, in summer.
From a distance as fine as that
first light on those islands.
As the light on the dark island,
which held still, while our ship
came away. This is the love song
that lasts through history.
I am a joke and a secret here,
and I will leave. It is
morning now. The light whitens
her face more than ever.

Linda Gregg

from "All of it Singing"

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