IV: Singing

Prairie Fire - - ROGER NASH -

I chant, in a wheat-field, the psalms

of David, in their original, shep­herd­ing, tongue:

his lips adul­ter­ous among breasts, but bound

by oath to the monogamy of care­fully harped

mean­ing in song. Words on the page

shine like black olives in rain,

swell like per­sim­mons, sway like pomegranates,

in voices down the cin­na­mon-mixed-with-salt

of the cen­turies. Their phrases ripen even

when pages are ripped out, shat on, scat­tered

as bleed­ing mat­tresses un­der raped women.

The words say, “We are that we are:

to try to hope by, what­ever hap­pens.”

Inar­tic­u­late flames once licked them away,

wag­ging as fu­ri­ously as ru­mours in an age

when ru­mours them­selves are only ru­moured.

Armies are al­ways on the march; plan­ets

or­bit un­err­ingly; build­ings ex­plode;

mis­siles, laser beams, hurled

stones, fall like the weather man’s

frequently pre­dicted hail. Yet here, still:

a prayer book in my hands, lilacs

in spring, women’s dresses shin­ing

with dew in the morn­ing. What­ever was sung,

even cen­turies ago, was in­tended for­ever.

Day by day, a singer grows

around these words, the lat­est ring in the trunk

of a Tree of Song. Bari­tones who bud­ded

be­fore him cir­cle, closer and closer,

around a heart-wood that rises, look­ing

for any light, sap lilt­ing up­wards.

The words won’t de­cide what hap­pens to us,

only that we can sing, what­ever does.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.