When the man with the Tam o’ Shanter fled town
he was followed by a Christian with a cudgel
and a cross. The man never stopped fleeing.
The Christian refused to stop following.
Jesus came down at the invitation of the flock
on the city limits. He did his Sermon on the Flat
Earth, stunning in its preparation with good
parts and bad, just like real life, we all said.
And there was St. Patrick slaying the snakes.
He was a freed man finally, prone to dizzy spells
but overall optimistic he would keep his balance
before the fall. Who thinks he knows never does,
who doubts himself makes the odds come true.
Churches galore! Parishioners everywhere!
And I will pursue the long hair of the night.
I know where she flows like an endless gown
off her svelte body and I go when she beckons.
If I am the last of my kind, I will see the world end
before I do. The sleep agents enter and leave,
the nodes of dissension turn back to the task
on hand. I hate to see the old man get his due,
the blade raking the arm hairs until the ground
of this love rises up to kiss her fully on her lips.
What of Peter the hypocrite, Peter the fox,
dangling his cane under the skirts of the rich
and tired of Christian mores, Christian admonitions
to do what you can, young lady, you are too old
to spin and stomp, to ax wolves or else see them win.
There are no wolves this far south. South did I say?
The hunters have taken their lunch boxes and rifles
to deer stands where they can smell wolves before
wolves smell them, being so very high up and all.
Nor are there salmon here. There were where I grew
to my majority. You stood on the weir and speared
them one by one climbing too slowly the ladders up
the cascade, a pour of river. Took it by neighbors,
sold them for half the price at restaurants. Constant
strain hampered such business. You harpooned
other salmon, living by then where you were born
a second time. The banners wrapped around trees,
sacred oaks and elms alike, provoked if need be
by some enemy that wants to slash throats, kill sheep.
The art of love is for fools who have nothing left to do
but make others miserable and call it this other name.
I have been sorely tempted. I have fallen prey to love
and fought it to a standstill. There is always the dying
to profess, for which nothing can sound any triumph
and the dark come down on what we will never do.
I was most unhappy knowing the impotence of my will
to love. There is a woman who needs unquestioned
devotion and she is made to wait until another man
appears, reaches for the hand that lets him take it
and grasp it for warmth. Will there ever be an end
to folly? I could not fathom there had been so much
awaiting me now, so much already had filled my youth,
wherein all memories lie, if truth is to be found in age.
(4 January 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander