Friday, February 26, 2010

March Willows by Ben Belitt

This kindling of sacramental color---El Greco's
collapsed Count, a cadaver of haze, the green
of a closed or an opening grave,

fillets under the bent
wands, diagrams of fountians
rising and falling in faintly sinister gases,

phosphorus and pistachio--
yields to its seasonal Summoner as the diamond
yields to the shock of the diamond-breaker's hammer.

Now the daft
ward of a mad song hacks at her laces
and spins in her farthingale's balloon

under the deckle of a mortuary tree
past Kedron and Babylon,
dangling her weeper's hair

and combing the primitive
leaf in valences and serrations---
a stonecutter's sense of the willow

chiseled in airy chartreuse.
O the mind breaks this way and that, says the Summoner,
of its own crazed weight, shows an anvil's

underside, as the catamount's breath is seen
a moment between the thunderhead in the snow
and a glinting of evergreen,

while the whole of the willow breathes like a heart,
turning its rag-bag of leaves,
one way, leaden, like the meat of the olive,

the other way, yellow; and the lute in the stone
is heard in its lunatic sweetness
in a rising and falling of branches:
"O willow, willow!"

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