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BEARINGS

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.

© Copyright David Selzer
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1 Response
  • Ian Craine
    August 1, 2010

    I shall come back to these new poems more than once, David. They are so lyrical and evocative yet so dense with allusion. My first comment might seen a trifle impertinent; a poem is an entity and its boundaries must be finite and determined by the poet. Yet the first stanza of “Bearings” is so beautiful and self-contained, so redolent of the Midi or adjacent Mediterranean domains, it could easily stand alone.

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