Lanthanum 1.7

And these too knew him : a lynx of stone.
- Conrad Aiken, The Kid

There was a kind of limestone light today
on Prospect St. An old New England light.
So many generations... Blackstone's late-
night candle (frail preliminary ray)

a white light on a black stone… shining
through the rustling tree-dark (whispering
leaves on leaves). Time, upwelling, sinking,
(wave on wave) rings – pining, pining...

What was he seeking in the wilderness?
Maybe the shadow of a Shulamith.
He was a gardener, an orchardist...
(the apple, Yellow Sweeting... it was his).

Meanwhile, an ink-black sun shone overhead
in far Peru, shading the ships of 1492.
And cast across the water, Ishmael, you
became your wail (a ghost-dance for the dead).

For me, a black-white photograph
ascends, like sunken Argo from the deep.
A little girl with melancholy sheepish eyes
(so huge and black). Thy rod and staff

they comfort me
and I am lost
without you. This balance, like a taut bow-
string, or like a plumbline at the prow –
an anchor. Who paid out the line? The cost?

The sun wheels lightly over Providence.
Snow sleeps on the ancient stone. A raven
leaps from pine to pine, southwest, southwest
– a trembling baton (from key to key).