And in this phantasm, flu-dream:
the slender hind, oak-bodied elk
trumpets out in the foggy elms,
soak-mossed and frog-hailed,
weeping of their tribulations
from the fires of ages,
horns scorched by human thunder;

an archivist owl scribes down
every fairy birth in the willows,
recipes for elf-balm and shot-heal,
gossip from the rabbit den,
chittering of new twigs and thistles,
renunciations of cursed hounds
never to heel at the beck
of another master
but to wander, lost, a bastard race
to die in the crack-hallow pines;

undines diving, caked with frond
and froth in the wind-swept hollow,
their ponds pith and pitch with soot,
sooth-saying of ship-wrecks on far-tossed
shores, dreaming of mergirls with pearl eyes
and pebble teeth, to comb cockles from their hair,
to kiss the breath of sailor death
into their dark backwater mouths;

a grain of sand, a cup of tea,
misery lamented, one dark drop of ink
on a fingertip – my words so described –
to smudge the tabletop of time
with my twittering tremble,
to darken the halls of the ancients,
buffed gleaming like dagger of Romeo’s doom,
with my step –
so hesitant, a quaver, like hoof before harpoon –
seems sacrilege.

Do not send Dickenson’s Fire Brigade for me.
These words will musk and oleander like a bouquet:
better to spread for the birds to pick
and weave into a cradle.

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