MERLIN AND THE OLD WOMAN
The sun that day swelled like a maternal
belly bleeding out slowly all over the sky.
The light is my mother, O sanguine light
The clouds flowed like menstrual blood.
At the crossroads where nothing blooms except
a thornless compass rose to adorn Winter
Merlin observed life and the eternal cause,
death, and rebirth, and the universe.
An old woman on a mule wearing a green cap
came following the riverbank downstream
and ancient Merlin there on the deserted plain
Smote upon his breast, crying out “Rival!
“O frozen self whose fate overwhelms me
whose flesh-sun shivers, do you see
my Memory approaching me like love?
What a beautiful, unhappy son I long for.”
His gesture crumbled the pride of cataclysms.
The dancing sun shivered in his navel.
Suddenly the springtide of love and heroism
came leading a young April day by the hand.
The roads from the west were covered
with bones, grass sprouting destinies and flowers,
trembling monuments near green carrion,
when winds blew windlestrae and misfortunes
Dismounting her mule his lover came.
The wind smoothed her finery with small caresses.
Then the pale lovers joined their demented hands,
their interlaced fingers the sole gesture of love.
Her movements mimed the ballet of existence,
she cried: “A hundred years I hoped you’d call;
the stars of your horoscope guided my dance.
Morgana watched from Aetna’s summit.
“Ah! It’s sweet to dance when for you appears
a mirage, where everything sings, and winds of horror,
pretending to be the laughter of the jovial moon
scaring away the warning ghosts.
“I made white gestures among the solitudes.
Spectres ran legion through my nightmares
My leaping twirls expressed beatitudes
All of which are nothing but a pure effect of Art
“I only plucked the hawthorn flower
when the time came for Spring to be deflowered,
when birds of prey proclaimed their thefts
of stillborn lambs and god-infants who will die
“and I am old too, but while you live I dance
But I soon weary and hawthorn blossoms
this April wouldn’t guarantee the secret
of an old body that died mimicking sorrow.”
Their hands rose like a flight of doves
on whose light that night swooped like a vulture.
Merlin went eastward, saying as he went
“May hap he’ll rise, Memory’s son, Love’s equal;
“whether he rises from mud, or a man’s shadow
he surely is my son, my immortal work
The brow haloed in fire on the road to Rome;
he will walk alone looking at the sky.
“The lady waiting for me is called Viviane
And come spring with new sorrows,
there, lying in marjoram and coltsfoot
I will be eternal beneath the hawthorn flowers.”