Canticle


There was the wind again,

the wind in the courtyard, lisping through the tables’ cracks,
thrumming against the drainpipe’s edges, its impatient cadence
kept at bay, by the walls, by the roof’s slated insistence. . . .

and inside the house: long quiet, filled by a sleeping

yellow light. Someone had left this quotidian paradise.
The room waited. It had such patience.

The room had the gathered bookshelves of a century,

a bit of Beijing, a hutch of old dark wood, the wood of some darkened forest
of childhood; behind its doors clicked shut, surely, the piled linens,
smelling of lilac, the plates stacked. . .

Someone had hummed lightly to herself,

had snapped the apron into place, had arranged and then cleaned.

The air spun with the infinitesimal empires of dust.

The room waits, holds some light in its long fine

sprawl of day. O reliquary, what is tucked into the four corners
of this certainty? Where are those soldiers now? Who, on a day
blown high and blue, tilted their white chins towards nation?

Where, the towns saved by the idea of agrarian industry?

How prophesy, like a single pink petal lost from its blossom

and blown to the feet of a mother, whispers about them.

So Mao’s been made into a million trinkets?

Someone left to who-knows-where. A little soldier drops her book bag out
of which sprawls books of instruction, books of statued histories. There are cusps
when the light unknots its red kerchief from the throat of day,
tosses it toward the horizon. . .