The day outside’s grey-white and indecipherable,
or rather, uninscribed. Despite the sun’s pale lozenge
we have to guess the shapes of houses, steeples,
wharves, and even the straggling trees are about to disappear
like hazy landmarks of receding years.
In this amorphous light, angel and devil embrace, separate
and then embrace again. This leaves us free
to frame new definitions where imagined lives can bloom
and prosper. We’ll see inside the tree
to where the sap is rising, see white shrouds
of sailors under the sea’s blue skin thrust
up into sails, and remnants of regret float by as bread
upon the waters. Sharper outlines call for sharper acts.
The Mediterranean stone pine resting its black elbows
on yellow sand, sun hard as mica across Catania’s waves,
led Empedocles to see one mind pulsing through the universe.
The philosopher, certain he was god-gifted,
leapt into Etna’s cone.
Etna threw him his brazen sandals back.
Copyright © 1989 by Nadya Aisenberg.
From Before We Were Strangers by Nadya Aisenberg,
Forest Books, 1989.