Di Brandt

The Conrad Grebel Review 19, no. 3 (Fall 2001)

Dear one, I saw you
riding the wind
under a blue blue blue sky
Here are some black days
ahead for you
Look! the tear in your red heart
reflects diamond shaped
shadows on the bright grass
Your spirit
among the leaping crickets
Hide it hide it!
under a grey stone

Someday the Silver Lady
will come for you
with starry hair
and a bowl of light
Watch for her, she carries
the moon in her belly
She will strike you blind
She will lift you
above clouds
to swirling galaxies

The dogs are sprouting
extra heads and howling
under the bridges
The bones of the drowned
children have washed down
the swollen red river
The strewn rose petals
have shrivelled to dust
Watch out! watch out!
Here is a long darkness
before She will save you

Fields of stubble
lying golden, blasted by sun
after the wheat harvest
Late August prairie soil
baked, cracked by heat
Mama, mama
the geese in the field
are tired
thinking of winter
the long flight home
the twisted golden rope
under oil slicks
dragging their broken
wings down
o! o! o!

Dear one, what have they
done to you
your golden head
rolling in the sand
Where are your arms
and legs now
your round belly
Your eyes have grown
big and luminous
Your eloquent mouth
The ones who suffer
the ones who suffer
the ones who suffer
lying mutilated
washed up on beaches
These words I sing
for you
cracked, shivering
in smog

He took you to the top
of the windswept bare hill
and looked around
There was silence around him
he thought it was only air
the binding took only a minute
You thought it was rope
for the new swing in the park
piercing your feet
with his awl
piercer pricker bodkin
and packing up
quickly, suddenly afraid
left you there

Eden, Eden,
you still have your eyes
Look at the sky
The ravens gathered
in the gnarled apple tree
They have come
to cry for you
with raucous tongues
their black wings flapping

You who will grow up
without Monarch butterflies
or salmon or wild bees
for whom
cicadas and fireflies
will be quaint
electronic myths
whose children will know
the words allergy
asthma panic disorder
more intimately than
roses or celestial or sea

O do not forgive us
for worshipping death
for crippling you
with terror
Eden, little grandmother
keeper of our hope
The grief of earth
gasping panting
under cement
our great failure
our open wound

Let me paint
dear angel
this fable for you:
a father’s face
in the dark corner
of the rose coloured room
over the tiny bed
of his firstborn
beloved, you
His soldier’s heart
opening into great gasps
of pity and fear
his conqueror’s dream
of guns dissolving
tremors in sand

How he tossed you
lightly in air
and caught three year old
you laughing
among the leaping
leopards and crows
O he was the lover then
bowing before your
beauty and golden haired
childish wild joy

And then his heart turned over
and hardened
His blood throbbed clumsily
through parched ventricles
through clogged veins
blue purple magenta
And the father in him
reared up on grey hoofed
legs flailing against
bit and bridle
No! No!

And his sensitive fingers
turned to steel
his laughter
to barked decrees
crowning himself
against his own two-year-old
pubescent grief

Is this love
is this love
this twisted clogged
river of molten gold
choking in chemical
saturated clay?

Even now, even now
sweet one
he hearkens after you
beneath cocked guns
Listen, you can hear
a heart sobbing
through cracked
grey cement

Nine long years
you will swallow
his pride his power
his twisted grief
little one, dearest
before you can
spit him out!

Here is a secret:
when you turn thirteen
go to the corner
of the yard at midnight
where the grass grows
against the fence
unreached by the lawn mower
under the crab apple tree
There She will greet you
with your shattered heart
in her cupped hands
She will pour its silver red
shards gently
into your tender chest
O listen then
to the spheres turning
in the dark sky
echoing through
the great Nothing
your crystalline song

Go then to the corner
of the yard at midnight
where the grass grows
against the fence
under the crab apple tree
unreached by the lawn mower
There She will greet you
She has saved your broken heart
in her cupped hands
silver red shards
There She will pour
your spirit
like music
back into you

In rippled sun drenched sand
I will wait for you
There I will gather
dates for you and wash
your pierced feet
under palms
Eden, dear one
your sutured heart
your curls swept by wind