The Journey

WJ Ray Photo by Amy Frenzel, 1994
WJ Ray Photo by Amy Melious, 1994

Epitaph for Fifteen Years of Labor

How the waxing moon recedes
Falling backward against the stars
And away south Scorpio slips to the sea
No more temples aimed at Antares
Egyptian dreams sleep in sand
As the earth spins its swivelling helixes
An embroidery speeding right to the ends of heaven
Along the curve of time
Four million six hundred thousand letters boxed
Through the pine branch--clouds
Smoke, translucent water, answer the moon
Fire mist in the ample air
To dye the sun bloody red and down it rides
By laws so gigantic it is descended and still there
Five thousand left turns onto Main Street
Twenty four thousand nine hundred backward glances
Upon innocent traffic
Horses bless by being
Their mouths forever open to the earth
In the unmoving distances
Quail chortle in their bramble
Then fold together to rest
Paired dragonflies sweep down the ranges
To the sunken floor
Across the road I travel
The shocked dead beasts lie scattered along the way
Violated, bereft, every kind
Even the elusive turkey buzzard none will touch
Lying tilted in the dry ditch grass
Day after day the same until its eyes
Evaporated to empty holes and blistered feathers go grey
For rats to ransack by night
Such light air bulk as though to say
Do not touch me, I have not risen
In respect of the wild spirit
One thing I will say
(Four hundred thousand five hundred fifty stamped envelopes mailed on time)
That I raised every cat deer bird skunk raccoon squirrel fox rabbit shrew
Off the gravelled track
Showed the four directions with a whispered turn
In a ceremony of my own making--
May you live again

Once the white heron I'd seen flying before
Landed to rest just within a barbed wire fence
Comically looked back as I met its eyes
Accepting that I sped quickly by
Three hundred forty million nine hundred five thousand six hundred seconds
Amid the wetland world of butterflies
Then it rose aloft laboring headlong above my path
Through golden meshes
Of starthrown feathers of light

Daniel Marlin, Halfway Angel
Daniel Marlin, Halfway Angel

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