Meanwhile, two more poems and a sort of prose thing follow.
The beadle is dancing
Graceful, in his thick coat,
Every step exact
As if the Earth had pined
Waiting for his heavy foot
To fall just so.
The cat, amazed,
Pretends by the window
That no mad beadle
Dances with the wind.
But she licks her paw
Aghast, the gods watch.
That their beadle,
Born for ills unnumbered,
Should dance as if
The business of his life
Was to dance!
BEFORE THE WORLD WAS
Before the world was, Wales was;
I have this from Hunt who had seen
A Welsh genealogy. Towards the middle
God creates the Heavens and the Earth.
Not an over-proud folk, the Welsh.
Perhaps they welcomed the rest of the world
Suddenly appearing, slamming into place
Around Wales, which had always been.
Or perhaps it had happened by degrees
The rest of creation coming into focus
And trying to look as if it, too,
Had always been there.
Some Welsh farmer,
I expect, pulled down the family Bible
(A huge thing, with all the pages blank
Save for the one in the middle labelled
Births and Deaths”) and wrote
Up all night with sick cow. About 10:30
Rest of world appeared. About time, too!”
Or soon or late I will forget how to remember, and thereafter the atoms which have kindly consented all these years to be me will, realizing that I was not, after all, a destination, but merely a stop upon the journey, recall other business they’ve too long neglected. Bidding each other farewell, they will set off in all directions, in search of new employment. Some will take a brief vacation making, perhaps, a leisurely progress through the guts of a beggar. Others will find that they’ve been transformed into light, hastening to wake some long-buried seed. Still others will gravely dance on star winds between the planets, or be the innocent victims of mad scientists who will shoot them at each other at unimaginable speeds.
Yet, the universe is more than infinite, and the time will surely come when all these atoms return to one spot, and rejoin. Think of it as a reunion, generally cheerful, but each atom noting to itself how extraordinarily the others have aged, and how entropy has shredded their orbits and dulled the hum of their electrons. Who but I can be guest of honor, conjured up from some obscure dream wherein I’ve taken refuge, and called upon to speak?
“Friends”, I may begin, “veterans all, what did we not do, what did we not accomplish in our time together? Time itself cannot efface or change the minutes we conquered and made our own. The instant we leapt in the air and hung there, defiant– surely you recall? The laws of the universe were suspended, and whether they would ever operate again was up to us, until we took pity on gravity and consented to alight, and the world was as it was. A small hand; a glance, a body curled on a bed; dust slowly whirling in a beam of light. A message sent through a thousand years, reaching us near death, which we patched and healed and sent on for another thousand or more? The promises kept, and the promises broken, and birds singing for a traitor as though their hearts would break? Voices, many voices. The feel of a round stone held in the hand.
“We chased love and it chased us, and at moments time courteously stepped aside and asserted no dominion over us. We did well and we did evil, and were done by as we did.
“These, I remind you all, were ours and are ours still. On a cold morning, over a sunlit city street, the instant we considered whether ever we should be gravity’s servants again continues.”