Ann Arbor Review
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
LISTEN TO THE LIONS
The enemy of the plowman is the boulder,
they say. In Ireland the stones tripped on
while turning soil are used to build walls,
to fashion partitions for grazing sheep,
so that they may continue plowing, bleating.
In Appalachia, there's a steaming machine
that chews through mountains, industry proving
too powerful for nature's colossal grace. They grind
its bones and mix mortar and cast it in long tubes,
carve it and ask it to support ceilings. And if I might
recommend one thing it would have to be...
listen to the lions--they run the world.
And, hey, nothing lasts for sure, it's all crumbling.
The tools used in restoration, the ones coating
the city with dust, will one day be dust themselves,
and we are left only with the lions. I can see
one now, his mane blooming from the collar
of a white robe, splayed across the king-
sized bed sheets in the master's quarters,
licking viscera from his quiet paw.
LEAD, THEN GOLD
The artist does not speak, but hears the rattle of heads,
shrunken and strung, hanging wreath-like
from Shiva's bronze neck. A thin silver of moon
is perched on his heavy brow. The god shifts
his pose, grinning self-conscious at the artist on the rock:
his most human of moments. Prayer unfamiliar,
the artist paints the tiger cape, knotted on Shiva's waist.
Shiva rides sidesaddle on a great bird, tension poking
through his lips: the two are unified, if only
in their vanity. The artist holds a pencil stub
with his thumb, squints to find dimension, wipes grit
from his eyes and begins sketching a monstrous bird,
anxiously shifting beneath the god,
talons clicking clay like marbles on tile,
like the treble of tapping keys.
Shiva sips from a half-skull, and hisses at the taste:
a touch bitter, for all the rust and marrow.
He reaches into a pouch and sprinkles
spices into the skull, drinks again and smiles.
The artist dips his brush and spreads wide planes
to the dry, shifting rhythm of the bird's wings, fluttering
like the turning of pages. Dust escapes in scarves,
floats from the foreground and traces the silhouette
of a tree-line on the horizon.
Two trees have wound themselves, through an eternity
of growth, together. The dove is an afterthought,
a mote of the aforesaid passion. Perched
in one of Shiva's many hands, a silencer,
which he places, lead, then gold
over the wick of sun. The quivering flame
disappears under the bell, and the desert is black.
The bell is lifted and rings with ember bead
and cinder tongue, a stream of sweet sulfur
that lifts and drowns. There is no sound
until the artist strikes a match to illuminate
a portrait of a god, a landscape with sand,
a dove gripping woven branches.
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