D. S. Marriott
FROM "SPEAK LOW: POEM TO JONAS"
Those ruins that were once his eyes
showing the smear of fish gaul
meant for older downtrodden men
shuffling through the world
pooling in hollows of white film
clearing moving laterally
through termini of flesh
consumes the body
walking side by side once more in silence
your eyes closed and then dragged open again.
Like angels burning on the rim
the horizon takes on a reddish hue
in the dissolving darkness
deeper the heft.
The fading light surrounds us
the illusion less and less
gathered in the glowing murk
the steady sensation of drowning
far out to sea and waves closing in
reflections of some Halloween image
for we have waited long enough
in the chaos. Listening to the noises
of night till eyes and ears
see the mysteries left behind
the vast expanses finally illuminated
from under ashes into sudden flame.
The endline: seeing the cordage become
a failure and me failing them
losing the task, the refusal
of each motherless one, and never wanting to live apart,
God's hard hand expelling night from morning,
to take what's left:
, disrespecting creation. light is less and seldom, a shadow
spotted with blood. down the block,
seeing the ambulances closer than close, the thought
dead in its tracks: the last unrolling immaculate flame
is the margin we look for, the promise, the lien. fearing heat
but knowing its name as each one holds his breath.
Seeing the look not refused the polished shield empty
or being too vivid to see maculate the sight (the stone
twisted to mirror each lover's perspective the frame)
but the eye, echoing all sinew and flesh
exposes what lies beneath the skin, incarnate the risk
a deep cordage in each yearning, the hopelessness of seeing it,
turning men to stone already stiff from the loss, the reflection
that each sees (eternal, unworked) mirror to his own agony.
the picture in the cave
bright in the redness of the flame is medusa's
her mind blinded in light from loss
the bones never seen, never touched except as separation
seeing in many directions at once the black ecstatic coils
the blended nightmare of a surgical art
(as the creature blinks closer to each shadowy, slinking man
her eyes covered over, stained with loss: as old as the world
but her mark unfailing she will not miss her target)
she sees him:
he refuses all the signs, blinded: murderous, aching, bereft
until he steps away and hears the spill of emptiness.
D. S. Marriott has recently published a book of poetry, Incognegro (Salt). His previous works include a study On Black Men (Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press).