by Jeff Celan
Here in this peachcream noonday near afternoon arborealed lane
New-templed heart cries out to razed temples dusty lain,
“O sight, flown upon the distant-holed hills,
Come back aloft the windmoss chaff
And feast your teeth on native nightshades,
The Beauty marks of first-lover’s face.”
Russet eyebrows pierced heavy and drooped
To wander amongst grasshoppers and alfalfa roots.
No talk passes, no conversion of sorts,
No windblown walks in summer shorts,
Our heels clicked together, cobbled soles combined,
No hissheat walks over sunshorn shimmers,
Past boiled smells of hot dog and curry vendors,
Do we come wending thru fruit-laden chutes
To down ourselves on duckfeather and hummus shoots?
I cannot remember now how she appeared.
Was she so much changed, or not at all?
The chasm split earthquake of a moment to moment passing
Is as deep, as wide, as irredeemable and lasting
As the astringent expansion of a loose-pebble canyon,
Cragged impasse amast
A river swifter grown with time’s stonestern stanchion.
Long forgotten sand of Seperation smoothed
All past pain like dull, desert-urned blue scarabs left long on ironing boards,
Covered, now uncovered under Egyptian dunes.
Lost love lain fallow, no sight, unseen
Collects dustbunnies on old worthless gold,
Valueless stores for future loves.
Lost love lonesome recovered
Is the ultimate grave robber,
Pulling out old wraps, yellow and aged—
The brains of a host pulled by tongs through the nose
Laid on a table, layer by layer,
To rotten and sable.
And after our mummies are dragged and dropped with akimbo limbs
Into glass pools lighted of turquoise clear heat,
Set up in glass chambers propped up on all sides
We will dance to camelnut polyrhythms of Nairobian museums,
And perhaps we can say,
“Love is a foundling child left on doorsteps of lovers,”
And wonder Where? Why? How? and Whence?, and finally declare,
“But not now, Not Now.
We are not ready nor worthy to foster.”
And with my body preserved and embalmed,
My skin tight and glucose and stretched wet over my knees,
I can see like a tourist, with a pamphlet in hand,
The beauteous-carved impossibility of ancient recoveries,
And say to myself with calm and with force,
“Love is a foundling child left on doorsteps of lovers.
But we were not ready,
Not ready to feed it with milk,
To always be teatling, twirling mobiles in the air
And getting gum and green suckers out of some hair,
But we took it in the house and unswaddled its mouth
Kept it for awhile and took it to the adoption house.
We gave it away perambulatory quaking to someone else,
And perhaps they kept it and held it and shed it with warmth,
Perhaps she’s found occasion, a new baby to sing
But as for me,
I yet find nothing when the false doorbell rings.”