Western Elegies II: The Aeroplane


It was you who said it: ‘In most affairs of the heart a
Moral smoulders …’ I ask myself what moral
Glowed in that double induction, timed to the minute
By our twin custodians aware there was no time left,
Or recognising, perhaps, the predestined moment
When Wahlverwandtschaften resolve their Anschluss.

There was so much irony in our mutual laughter,
In our chance-met miracles of recognition,
That I, for once, twice-shy, could hardly acknowledge
The simple fact that I had found my measure,
The calm at the raging eye of my tornado,
The source and solace of its unanswered question.

Keepers, custodians? Yes we need their night-skills;
We need their Angst for the bitter joy of creation;
We need them to tear us from the blindness of habit—
But what of their larger use, to what waste Golgotha
Do they lead us, children born to the house of exile?
I do not care to be told of that higher purpose.

Now above these clouds, like a disembodied spirit,
I look back on my seven bright days of creation,
Recalling your words, a cantrip so lightly spoken:
‘You have long lines I find it hard to breathe in’,
And I think: ‘In your air I breathed for the first time ever,’
But the soul takes flight from that brief incarnation.

Yet that fierce exchange in the ecstasy of assurance,
The heart unburdened of its hoarded splendour,
The flesh achieving its unguessed consummation,
Sing still in the fire of the furnace that bears me eastward;
If I worship you with my body and with my spirit,
Celebrate now and forever that act of worship.

Landfall! My plane dives two hours beyond your sunrise;
Orion rides high but has not reached your horizon;
Time like space sets a crystal rampart between us.
Fire-keeper, phosphor, my phoenix, my Fata Morgana,
Pray for us now and in the hour of reunion,
As I land on the desolate soil of an alien planet.

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