Ainigma, typographic cipher whose rhyme
swivels steady but loose, eddy in a stream.
You were actress then artist, made a poet
by catastrophe. Turned to words, in fact:
when all’s said and gone, quivering across time,
and voluminous. Look: picture as a painter would
blazing huts in a circular village, colonial settlement
constructed orderly as the solar system.
Flames gorge on roofs and walls, books
beloved in exodus, the smoke-vomiting fire
round which orbits the hierarchy of patriarch,
matriarch, servant, and slave — a live
tableau inflected in the eyes of darker faces
unseen beyond the edge of the trees.
Colonists torched the forests to harvest
pot ash. Artist, where’s your plot?
A plot of ground, carbonous black.
They dug from hillsides, mining lime
for metallurgy and to neutralize soils.
Could paints convey the panoramic flux?
But I fear I’ve melodramatized
your difficulty, made a pantomime
in didactic prose. By contrast, sublime
evaporation yields your lines — dexterous
textured thinking grasped as moveable type.
Not writer at a desk, but astronaut sprung by
photochemical combustion clear of the slime,
projected over a globe whose reeling makes
blurred and bleeding history, makes sense
now and then, astronomically perceived.
Reader, so hesitant when unsure: terrified
by new arrangements of familiar words
or unable to see constellations turn, not
around the polestar but Southern Cross. Prime
numbers are essential. Prime words
granted weight, flint-edged arrowheads,
could be runes to mark the demise
of theologies we blithely inherited.
New equations, cerebral but tense
with anguish, and spun on a dime
like a parabola distorted to reveal
the flexed trajectory of a meteor
through amnesias of darkened space
and laid upon charts for maritime
navigation. Perhaps when it’s seed-time
the stars look arranged, dutifully arrayed,
but at peak of drought in crop-blasting heat
who could do otherwise but scorn
thoughts of pattern? Flung like stellar wild thyme
upon the slopes, ripped and burst into bloom
then abandoned as rubbish whole galaxies wide.
If words can do justice, can do damage
to that boredom even language will induce,
isn’t it words knocked from mundane display,
now scrawled in radium with a half-life
that instead of sliding down will climb?
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