Wednesday, April 3, 1991

DREAM VESSELS # 2: Earth Palette

DREAM VESSELS # 2: Earth Palette
—from a collage by Marsha Connell

Somewhere in Central America
blue shutters closed against the blue wall,
the indigo sky in the midst of war.
Guarding against the evil eye, Babylonians,
and later, the Arabs painted beads blue.
This is why blue beads dangle from the mirrors of buses,
donkey's halters, and women's necks on both continents.
The blue-eyed language of a Mestizo child—
Cortés, Cabrillo, Pizarro, & Las Malinches of the world
who suffered at the hands of love.
All we have to measure entire civilizations
is blue tile from Inanna's ancient city,
vessels filled with golden beads, and arabesques—
images in the shape of God. Names of stars.
The midday sun seeks refuge at the base of shutters.
Behind closed doors a Yemenite bride is sleeping.
Soon she'll assemble herself in the form of desert crystals.
Gathering the sun in her robes she turns
to catch the light, all she sees is ultraviolet.
Reduced to silica, she is pure transparency.
The calligraphy of wheat fields after scything
combines arranged in bezier curves,
visible only to the birds who are not bound to this land.
Cuneiform on clay tablets: writing began when the silos
and graneries were overfull, before the desert was at hand.
Times of plenty, and of need. A blue-eyed daughter in Israel,
far from home. Who is her spirit guide? the mother asks.
A map of civilization is scattered in that wheat.
On the edge of the steppes, horsemen wait
against the sky for someone to trespass:
they say, one must die to become a man,
to take one's place in the community.
After a good harvest of wheat, of bodies—
it's all the same in the end. On any of the continents
nature doesn't distinguish between blood and chaff,
or invent abstractions about the shape and color of space.
Where is the juncture where the desert shrub antlers itself
against the brooding sky? Teased into patterns by the wind,
it yields in random mathematical increments.
How then, to explain away those missiles,
more beautiful than the stars?

Spring 1991 DREAM VESSELS —from collages by Marsha Connell

1994 Kalliope, First Prize, Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prize

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