Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peter Balakian: Photosynthesis

The slips of the day-
lilies come off.

The wind blows
in from Vermont,
blows the silk kimonos

off the delphiniums,
blows the satin cowls
off the jack-in-the-pulpits.

Let it blow
the detonated-pollen
green, acid-rubbed,

plumed and rotting day--
blow into the leaves

their silver undersides
wet you at night.

Slide your tongue
into the green dark

so you can see the ultra-
violet scars on the goldfields
where the bees come in the day.

The night air rises
like steam
from a mud-pot,

and you see nothing.
Hear no voice.
See no light.

Just yourself
staring back at you
in middle age,

as if the novocain
of the sea urchin
froze your lids.

You see the window
you built

where you placed your hands
and broke your turquoise jars
and saw the stones

of scalding yellow
where the steam had burned
things back to where your private lust

and your longing for history
were colorless, and the blood
of the dianthus was gone.

You see your life rise
and slide away like steam,

feel a goat-tongue
lost in a mountain
wet you down.

This poem appeared in Balakian's June-Tree: New and Selected Poems, Harper Collins 2001, and in To Stanley Kunitz, with love from poet friends, for his 96th birthday. Publisher: Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y. : Sheep Meadow Press ; [Hanover, NH] : Distributed by the University Press of New England, ©2002

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