Lanthanum 1.20

I raise this greenness to my lips
- O. Mandelstam (trans. James Greene)

The air, saturated with a milky mildness
floats above the almost-melting snow,
and everything seen through this mist, so
fair and luminous, begins to glow – sweetness,

silence penetrate cold Providence again.
As if the prow of some transparent Argo
cast up a wave of milk (mysterious rower's
foam) on its way to Lazica, or Chersonese –

some Flying Dutchman, ghost ship, golden
funeral barge... bearing an exile with his
black-haired bride. Leading a stubborn, tongueless
holy man to the last landfall of John Berryman.

One ultimate ground for every wayfarer
(at the far end of a wave of black earth).
One limestone pediment, beneath a surf
of snowdrift. One wedding (sea and air).

As if a snowflake were a diadem
of tears, bent upon some stone redoubt
of unbroken vows (where the martyr's bout
goes twelve rounds, round and round). Amen.

Where the almond eye of the absent bride looks out
from the flowering limb, through the winter mist
Strange order of reunion, melding of opposites...
each ramshackle skater's hut, unlikely experiment

in perishing parishes... each colonial romance
entangled with the arc of some more solid frame.
Orpheus, yodeling in tandem with the Argo's beam.
David, fingering his octave-lyre (in Port-au-Prince).