We guess at laws; we hold a rock. Drop a rock in water and a crown Leaps up, each jewel inverts in arc A world in replica drowns When the crown into its own substance Sinks down, refusal to be known Of anything not ourselves. Glance Inward. The royal “we” mourns When the pronoun breaks its romance With the plural. The mirror is torn. I am one who speaks with a rock In his mouth. A law forms This surface a word’s weight breaks, A law draws a line in the sky No eyes see the red-tailed hawk Cross as she hunts, no eye Sees her feathers become gold, Her dark eye too richly Jeweled to see, in sky’s cold Vault a cymbal ringing With wing’s every beat, the old Rhythm calling us who listen To war or tears. The king— He sat down on the mountain. The subjects in his head wouldn’t sing. A father carried his son and wept. A son dragged his father, crying I killed him before his face leapt Into my eye, before I could see His face, my father’s face, kept Opening his eyes in me To forgive me. A hawk Jangles in the sky relentlessly, Dives down into the rock’s Shadow where the sparrows Watch ants in battle knock Grain of dirt from hated jaws And triumph. Here are none— No heroes, only stones obeying laws. What falls must fall. Mouth from stone. Air from bird. King from crown. Arms from arm. Earth from home.
The moon heaves the morning into the trees “in whose sunset suns still rise”— my shadow leans before me when it leans behind— the accident of leaving coincides with the accident of return. Why harm it?— The day by telling its story?— Song creates distance within intimacy some voice sings across this distance song creates. “The mouth holds the shape of the last word spoken.” Every mouth but the sun’s holds the shade of the last world spoken— But whose mouth is that?— saying O to open eyes—eyes that see and so they say, or one says, or me, “As I see, so I say.” Whose mouth is that?— The sun’s? “The night sheen takes over,” it does not deny the day; it proves (in some awful, un-nameable way) it— stars litter sunset, stars caught in the lattice- work of darkening trees, no O of lament or O of praise, mouth closed, closed eyes, these marks that punctuate the reddening sky, prelude to the night’s text, where the reading-light moon fails in pulling from ink’s measureless scrawl one word to read. Instead, we see stars— billions. Each shows us a sentence that when it ends, ends.
Dan Beachy-Quick is the author, most recently, of Circle’s Apprentice and Wonderful Investigations: Essays, Meditations, Tales. He teaches in the MFA Program at Colorado State University.