Pastoral I (Techné)
Behind the stone wall cloistering
a wintering pasture, an old maple
blisters vestigial red. Vermilion,
multiplicative, erupts. The nag
sloughs off a pathetic snow. In the leaf
it’s pinnate venation, as with
the hand. Our hand. Who knows
what ambition withstood
your syphilitic drowse toward.
A sapling laid in for the truant
oratorio in a landscape fundamentally
inhabitable to the human form. How else,
anyway, could they look.
Instead, the escarpment
clips the land just beyond the pasture,
and past that, through the diffuse
afternoon half-light, blockish testament
to city and its Industry rises. And what good
industry. What good, if one forgets
the mouth-work to my business, my kin,
if one steadily deliquesces into element
most familiar. Whether or not one wills it.
Sunflowers flourish in uncle’s rich black manure fields
after rain. Smells effortless, like carriage, ornate transport
I would take through the cow-path, wilding and fern-choked,
to the reading we were attending in the resolutely mythical
years to come. In other words, Nathan was going to be there,
and my sister, and every other symbolic attestation
to the value and dignity inherent in all human work.
Perhaps more accurately, the narcotic
inversion that is dreaming to sleep would end production
as such and just produce, and I’d no longer have to imagine you
telling me I’ll never have to clean houses again.
But don’t we know the nature of uncle’s secret heart? Or how easy
this is when addict follows adder’s-tongue in common
parlance? It’s no excuse,
everyone forbears a childhood. The cringing dog
in our dreams, who makes us
feel such remorse—what is he doing here? In this place
of unimaginable beauty and ease?
The Georgia corn snake blondly coils and coils
its halcyon forgetting.
Scrub pines pirouette
past our notice, broadening the field
of vision, flaxen
grasses abstracting pleasantly in pleasant
half-sun. She is here
at your behest. Your exotic dancing
daydreams—limbs consumed by
marked or unmarked—fatherly
externalities you never inclined to
observe— how petty
in her tattered lace and temporary studio.
Blond enjoys us. Consider it our par-blind
and facile grip on light.
I want to go back there,
submerse in warm opacity, how it
cleanses. Just as at any given moment
you are with or without a cigarette.
Though there may or not be
more than two ways to live.
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