now as ecstasy mistaken,
traded in that ancient market–
echoes across the Janiculum of Rome;
chants dressing a temple;
cries of duty sworn at the burial mounds.
Each of us cut by fathers
and coaxed by mothers
into our cast for the world.
Can it be we’re now overrun
in this undertow,
like tokens lacking even the Hand?
Decrees uttered by overlords,
in solitude, too, they search for the first–
first thought, first flicker, first flinch–
that gives rise to that warmth in their breast.
Without the world pole,
lacking the unmoving North Star
all truly is vanity.
That desert lament
knew what we’d deserted.
Complete archive can be found on the Poems page.
Painting: Messer Ansaldo Showing Madonna Dionara his Enchanted Garden, Marie Spartali Stillman, 1889