Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

All Must

We hadn’t forgotten that all the tables
In the room had been recently bussed,
Nor that just before the marrow
From the ossibuchi slid onto tips

Of bread, and dust now’s on the candle wax
That had given us its light, all the better
To see the cancer their doctors said
They had, them, over there, next to

The other thems, and could we trace
The trade routes of these words,
A spontaneous flame in an unspontaneous
Desert, or the arrow we would like to

Follow if we could ever find it, perhaps
There, the tip hidden in someone’s head,
Traveling down someone else’s spine,
Hitting someone else’s heel, might that

Yarrow would be just one of the cure-alls,
Something to give belief to releafing
After seeing the paths covered with
Leaves, how we can try to manage to

Be anti-brief, asbestic, lungs full of thunder,
And the thunder full of us, when even
The metaphysical seems metastatic, the change
That clangs, the ex-votos lining the church walls

In Real de Catorce that day, us, through
The Ogarrio Tunnel into somewhere
Where air thrilled us, and where we would
Never go again, unless we were beckoned

By something invisible, or unless we were
All invited together, whether the tables were
Set again or not, or even whether we had all
Just finished, chairs pushed back, as was time.

Notes: “Golden lads and girls all must,” Cymbeline; marrow, sparrow, narrow-minded; dust, lust, cussed; too little too late; “one nail, one nail,” Coriolanus; the historical present; says, sĕz, you can say that again, that; 79 x girl, 400 x boy, 451 x woman, 1998 x man, Shakespeare’s word count; nutmeg, nut smelling like musk; “you speak like a green girl,” Hamlet; “those girls of Italy, take heed of them,” All’s Well That Ends Well.  

return to top