The WeatherDoes It Sympathize With These Times?
The cherry trees in Washington bloomed earlier this year. We planted the weird weather; the weird weather is upon us. Whether the Balkan sorrow led to the non-Hodgkins lymphoma, whether the silicone led to the silicosis
Whether sylvan Vietnam wept its leaves because of the war, or no
Whether the Libyan sand tore, whether the Kosovar fields tripped, whether the Sudanese water soured, whether Dusseldorf grayed and Warsaw grew moon-holes where once there were homes
whether Nevada chinooks arent suspicious of the incoming trucks
whether the levees mourn the wetlands all along the Gulf Coast
It is certain that the last living poor people are stuck on the roof. They have a can of paint. Theyve painted HELP.
The pall and cough that is the World Trade Center Cough wracks the boys from New Jersey and York. The brawny boys and lambent young mothers from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Utah, who did labor in the desert, beset by interminable galls of the joints, by forgetting, by loose bowels, by mad utterings of the head and breast, whether their strife kindled from chemical factories, inoculations, great strain
it remains that the last kith of the aurochs have returned to Chernobyl, where with the radioactive wolves they live peaceably.
The cherry trees in Washington bloomed earlier this year. The limpets and sea stars are shuffling north. Mangroves pass over; caribou pass over. Coral reefs bleach unto bones.
It remains to tally our lament. Depleted uranium collects on lettuces; it sublimes, it slips the placental barrier, it slips the alveolar barrier; it sidles long winds forever. Dengue fever ascends the hill and alpine firs ascend the mountain. Sleet like wool, then, frost like ashes. Thus the grasshopper shall burden and desire shall fail. Having done with darkness, the dictums of tides, having shod each shrink-wrapped orange
O the ponds our fathers and their fathers did skate are as mist, are as froth, are as steam
and the male bass from the rivers that flow through the ponds grow limpsy eggs and slue. The masculine principle, everywhere, lost.
The corrective of ones customary breath must swell, grow Hebraic, without creed, practice mimesis of the convulsions of the bandaged beneath trees
take pencilings and bloodstains. There will be a dactlylic tendency and the chime of consonants
alliteration to bear the elemental.
Say irradiated spinach; say irradiated spinach. Carol water shall be the new oil, sing water shall then prompt our bombs.
Might we each receive the pathetic fallacy that is our due? Might a pillar of cloud chasten the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Might lichen girdle the president to a philosophic rock?
He will be the orator-poet, the poet will be me, I will be you, and you will be the fevered, far from home. Our adamant foreheads are flint. In my sun-scorched and gristled form, hale and deepening, I crouch beside the broken bodies twined to the broken machines
an epoch ushered in
I carry the physic of idle magazines, crab-apple jelly, oranges and mints. I search the pale faces in the mansions-made-field hospitals for the pale face of my brother before death, that crude door.
Heaped among the cherry trees in the capital city, the still-flush torsos that long for their limbs
in our common halls, the opiate of immodest news
the glaciers retreating and the polar bears thinned.
But there have been samples of another description.
Snowflakes continue to be lawless. They collect on us in crowns. Even today I breathed the inimitable air and the sycamores mottled in frocks. Wasnt it a fierce, a sere, a goodshaped, a bright? Werent the small rodents delighted? The silk-thread thistle does loft; the furthest twigs do ruminate.
There will be a going-back. The plangent highways will be wound. Thus the corruptible shall sleep and in sleep be they changed. Let us not leave the lights on leave the lights on leave the lights
(this essay, an homage to Walt Whitman's eponymous essay, was first published in The Burnside Review)