Ask the cut lilacs what “safety,” what “suffering” mean.
They strike the drain with their feeble crosses. It is like watching
honey writhe, a spasming flag. Everything otherwise is very still.
Faith has left this place & taken its ragged choir with it,
its urchins & its bells. I want to touch the butchered blossoms,
so I do. This is not a metaphor. They are in this place
just as the shadows of dogs are in this place. Tally the soldiers
lost for this, who limp along the bridleways. Their cries
are bits of glass. They are known by the sun as well, but this
is the moon’s fable, carved from every tangent limb. Moist
do we enter & moist are we borne away. I touch the lilac
once more, its fading neume. I wish music were the friend (to us)
it pretends to be. Such vagrant architectures. Captain, we are
very small, our ships have been examined by eminent physicians
who find no fault. Let the tongue rest now, for awhile.
Let it shear its long dream from the bodies of sheep, or wolves.
We never know whose corpse we are wearing, whose dead.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 37 Number 4, on page 39
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