After the Pandemonium
Now take your offerings to some temple gate,
Remembering the innocents, the wronged,
And those who bore a share of guilt but died.
There say some words of rue to banish hate,
Recalling names and that the dead once longed
To know a mother’s care, a father’s pride.
Remorse may well seem weightless next to fate
And mortal loss, or suffering prolonged:
But needful, never safely brushed aside.
“Honey of roses” (motes that shone on air
And settled in your inkwell, there to gleam
And glaze your quill) were fragrant in a prayer
Or song for lute, went spinning in a beam
Of light, alit upon your hair…
Now that you’re dust the wind frisks over groves,
Do jots of life still glow inside your lines
And scent a room with ambergris and cloves?
Are words as effervescent as the wines
That fete and jubilate our loves?
You tossed away the laud of court and king
To serve a “lesser” place: how fleet a time
Was yours in which to labor, write, and sing,
To make the passing-bell into a chime
And temper winter with your spring
Child with a Bird Shrine
After a painting by Graham Ward, 2011
Here world’s as golden and as olden, burnt and white and right
As bread, and a child’s hooded head is like a globe;
The body through the robe is spiring, bears an orb of dream—
Like the scorched moon in a sliver of silver cap.
Eyes wound, they are so pensive and so mild, with gentleness
That’s almost tears. He holds a bird shaped like a smile,
Although his face is stilled, all thought a cairn, one glistening
Monument to love. Beside him stands the dovecote,
Dove cart, bird shrine made spare, simple, as in a child’s drawing
Of tablets Moses brought down from the mount, yet soft—
Taper of neck and flare of wing and curious round eye.
A flight of doves down-swirls from moon to cart, not moil
But pattern like moonlight through leaves, as if the realm of grace
Could be as flocked and foiled as wallpaper—as if
The moon were a gleamy spoon to scatter doves. Birds in air
Are amphorae, are alabaster jars with wings,
And shining oil sings in their veins, makes fragrant prophecies
In flowing words—needless to croon some soothing lie
When eyes say meek, say that a child may know world’s witherings.
Inherit the earth, child—the cold moon-gloam on soil
And sky like toast. Inherit spellbound flying from the doves.
Your fingertips lift up the crescent curl of bird.
The most recent poetry book by Marly Youmans is The Book of the Red King (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing, 2019.) Her most recent novel is Charis in the World of Wonders (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2020.) www.thepalaceat2.blogspot.com