by Fred Marchant
An ivory slide-rule left me by my grandfather
became a measuring wand, a prophet and sign
of my bent-over-a-hairline calibration of the real.
He was waked in our living room. While the priest
intoned a full rosary above him, I was a child
told to stay put on a chair, to be obedient under
the lamp made out of a cast of the goddess,
her bow in hand, a quiver of arrows on her back,
and one breast out of her tunic. Trailed by whippets,
she walked under a curling brass vine, at the tip
of which was a bulb which shone with the same
thin light that falls now outside my window.
It falls on white pines, and on cords of cut timber,
each thickened by imagined elements of earth and heaven,
neither of which is the nature I long for anymore.
Copyright © 2000 by Fred Marchant.
From Full Moon Boat, Graywolf Press.