Poetry at Sangam



NUCLEAR SEMIOTICS by Amanda Calderon

Nature is nothing but information
It is undeniably beautiful

Late June, snow falling: Coins,

keys, seashells, perfume
bottles, eagle claws—souvenirs

for good price & a jangling

First, to know it is a message at all

A small lighthouse in a sea
of shadows, a great delicacy, gelatinous,

pale yellow, very like sky
You might soften it in your mouth
several minutes before chewing

It emits a sweet odor

It winds between trees like a long
dragon, Gregorian chant

Now think about it:
Let me see if I can tell the story:

Once, a fresh kill lay near frozen
in the land
of some horse people—

In the native tongue, Land
of the Horse People—

A horse, indigenous, small,
but fat—in life, carting a thousand
pounds on its five-foot continuance

Wolves loped in
for a go, bears, woolly pigs, weasels,
a mother tsking, shooing them

Gingerly, lifting the corpse

Taking it to her son, preparing it,
he, scalloping with barely teeth

& distracted, sponging off
to the weather’s other side

She might tell an ethnographer
He sees no papa in the newsreels

Maybe, when you are always cold,
some phantasmagoria
is papered over

You know the story where the woman
has a tiger for a husband
He stops by on occasion—She
can show him the boy if she wants

Often she does not
Presses, instead

to the window pane:
a picture of a two-headed hare
a picture of small blue elephants
Now for the riddle:

One animal in this story glows

Remember the story
Like a heavy robe from a steel trunk—

Fang, tail, hoof,
burnished jaundice-eye—

You have to wonder: Did they bank
on our inevitable lusting
for the bright & circular?