from Shepherds Calendarby Rachel Blau DuPlessis
The window’s sunny shape
makes a dark spot, a trace of dark shimmer
so that the square hardness of light
marks you with an evanescent illumination,
“a fleeting but sharp pulsation
of historical awareness.”
Versus the endless humor of
‘scientists were stunned to find...’
that the universe is more
redundant, more filled
with barely understood
more articulate in its plurality of pulses
and plethoras of code
its numerical mysteries
of double primes
its inter-nests of bode
its ecologies of ode
Than they had previously thought.
Or perhaps it”s just a cliché
invoked to explain
what they still do not know
as if they really knew
Which they do
(of course! who would deny it! not me!)
up to a point.
Poetry might be said
to know (or “know”) the rest—
except that exact argument
is so self-serving.
But it's also pretty pleasing—like eating ripe figs from your very own tree.
“The eclipse of the moon can be Googled”
is something impossible to say twenty or so years back
to the friends invited for dinner on the deck
who needed to know the time of the eclipse
because of their schedules the next day (busy)
plus the hopes that it won’t be cloudy, and so on.
There will be chicken paprikàs (in Carl Rakosi’s recipe)
and maybe we will see
the blood moon
inscribed in the poem’s
structure, in syntax which goes onward
in static and solemn
from the roll of the seasons, to moments
that mark each others’ wonder
but look forward unstintingly
to two temporalities
living and dead.
For the poem is only a black door
opening straight out into nothing
which is another word for
I have stood in The Smallest Theater in the World.
Maybe it’s not what you think.
It is in Monte Castello di Vibio.
The Teatro della Concordia.
Its symbol is a pair of clasped hands, like friendship.
It was civic and optimistic when it first opened.
It was almost destroyed in the fascist era.
But it survived.
I'll bet you thought the smallest theater meant “me.”
Well, that, too.
And now we can talk about the other smallest theater in the world:
What will we tell the dead when we are dead
what will we tell the living when we are dead, and the living when living:
In fact—what will we tell any of them?
How many directions are there, and we enter
and inhabit however more.
I look forward, I look back. It is often
I can’t write this actually
because the whole
is about trace, a draft, a stroke, a kind
a gap a hole in the fabric of the knowable
a lag a shred a tear.
A tolling sound—the trace
a clicking sound of trace
the perfume of trace
the hair in the eye—trace
the wet envelope—trace
bloopy teenage letters—trace
the sense of evanescence, of time ticking in one’s private body.
the trace of here am I, the trace of being there or anywhere.
The trace is active and weedy,
and even traces must be pruned
for too much memory can paralyze.
There's a blue-black zig on a yellow wing.
We will greet it
in our own language
while yearning to know its.
Like memories, poems
are often forgotten, or
one knows the oddest bits
they flash and float, and the slits of barley
or a little rising mist
remind you of them, but they
are hardly there and can’t be proved
and poems are written down now, or mostly,
or recorded and sung again
so this comparison is silly but it’s
as if all your memories were
one poem, the poem of the world
adding the other people’s memories, gathering together
the placental mistletoe,
the kiss abyss, so it’s
all the world in a book—an ever-encompassing
poem-book to make and to hold
and then the book goes
ContributorRachel Blau DuPlessis
Rachel Blau DuPlessis is the author of Drafts, a long poem in 114/115 sections, and recent works from Subpress, Xexoxial Editions, and Ahsahta. "Shepherd's Calendar" comes from a new book about time called Mackle, Shard, and Trace.