Lanthanum 2.24

24

The Providence day warms into Provençal
birdsong, all around. Promise of the sun :
another year. And solitary Blackstone
sets out his seedlings, readies his medieval

plow (rough palms at rest – a festal
Palm Sunday). Midnight in St. Petersburg
sun saturates the yellowish bridgework
and Palladian facades – delicate, gradual –

inevitable as Bach, Stravinsky, summer.
The universal weight, the atomic number
of a single secret element (a snowdrop
buried in burnt umber soil). Homer's

lodestone Ithaka. Everyman's home.
The weather in spring (a certain cosmic
inconstant)... this the modest matrix
of your psychological backyard (Jerusalem).

My mother loves bright Minnesota snow.
But long ago (with some Cézanne plein-air
panache) she saved (in oils) two elderly,
drab-coated dames, gathering early

flowers in a threadbare, gloomy yard.
I wish John Berryman had seen them too.
He lies not far away, across the Mile-
Long Bridge
, in Resurrection Cemetery –

waits there with Yeats & with Villon,
with Mandelstam, Akhmatova & Whitman
too. He sleeps like a medieval mason
under the milky, evanescent, limestone

smile he raised – arched with paradoxical
unlikely strength, of muttering lips
and river-flow – until the long ellipse
of history replays their sheepfold madrigal.

3.28.09