They lie after loving in a shuttered room,
lit with an underwater vagueness,
replete with jasmine. They hear but
do not listen to the hoopoe calling
in the almond tree or the goats clinking
softly in the olive grove. They no longer
even hear the roar of the cicadas.
She lies in his arms. They sink into sleep,
lovers drowsing in a perfumed sea.
The spate plucks willows weeping from the banks
and careers them swirling, whether or not,
to waltz downstream with honeysuckle stems,
a bloated lamb. Do we change course, with charts
and signals, once, inexorably? Or
do we drift at wind’s and swell’s mercy,
unremarked and far into the night?
A lamp flickers. The mainland is mauve,
precipitous, its valleys covert, profound.
A flute moans in olive groves. Brief insects
chafe the night air. Behind them, waves
from Africa rush to shore. They have steered
for open seas yet homed on the past.
They will skirt the swamp. Upstream, where the river
is jade, beneath the invisible nets
swifts weave, on a low hill, are fate’s stone doors.
Priests and their chicanery resurrect
numberless tribes of the dead: old men and brides,
lovers and generals. The future
waits like an assassin.