Monday, September 21, 1981

CALF EYES

             —for Leonard

The old mirror in the hayloft,
instead of allowing light in,
has been blocking it out
for the past 25 years.
It throws light back to the sky.
 An image of itself
it throws back to the sky
an image of itself framed
with the liquid green
of maple leaves.
Behind the mirror
the annual pile of cobwebs
gathers in barn dust.

I've always noticed
how the eyes of calves
are like twin pools of murky night
surrounded by a shore
of retina and rain.

It was last night my stomach
forced a tidal wave back down
and this memory where I
had to reason my nausea into being,
that I read those poems of yours,
I could feel the finger behind the eyes,
gouging behind the eye,
to the eyesocket,
finding not more water,
but a boneless desert,
an arid fold of brain.

Sweet, the cycles of rain
following the footpath of the seasons
count them, the cycles of madness.
I hear the rain singing
on the mirror of the beast

What separates this tangle
of human flesh from that of beasts?
Those calves with their liquid eyes
imprisoned in cages so that their flesh
will stay succulent and tender for veal.
They suck my finger, the urge to nurse
is strong in one so young.
Their pink petal tongues
caress my index finger
and they know, somehow
they know it is wrong.

In their eyes I see the fish lens
reflection of myself and the summer sky
The smell of grass fire hangs heavily in the air.
Skirting the shores of the lake
every action demands an equal reaction.

We bring moldy hay inside the barn
with the mirror reflected sky
Are the mummified carcasses
of those born to young,
of those whose mothers
could labor no more,
the breach birth breed
breath, hangs heavily in the air.
Their choice was made for them.
We're always trying
to come to terms with our own death.

I am not a sailor.
These eyelids hold no water.
The eye is a cistern, a repository
in the arid eyeless place . .

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