Attaché in the Palace Maze / Sundew in the Cemetery (2 poems)


So, pilgrimage, then, which is
the dead blended with distance,
the text’s thread snapped
like a small bone in the wrist.
You are here. The saints’
holy example is there,
& in between
you will build a library
with the small fires of your will.
You will hoard hours
& prepositions, as if
from the catacombs of the flesh
a god might scythe
His cedars from this Lebanon.
On that ancient ground
I answered the call of every
dusk-borne bird.
My breath-shaped galley
capsized amid its centuries,
glass weights set on the white
pages to keep them flat.
You are there, someone else
is now here, it’s a ragged
shepherd’s dance.
The sun beats time. Christ I lost
& Christ I gained again—
so many Christs, my footfalls
piercing the watch faith had set
among the vetch & hawkweed,
the maps captioned
in Aramaic or in Greek.
There is still place & hour
for music, the praise-song’s
wedge & cull. It is not
an idea, or, it is the idea
the body has, & not the mind:
go here, go there, the stars
chanting flocks of patience
in their crisp diapasons
my blue shirt guzzles thirstily.
It remembers the city
where love conceded, it is glad
to cast its famished crown
at the feet of the watchman
who, on his evening rounds,
salutes the hive.
And what you’ve made of that.

Chipping Campden

But everything is brushfire ash, here—
It sticks in my wickety hair,
it adheres to my wickety stare
and I have no children.
Or I am all-child,
I am what the child dreams
from its palace of ash, whose shadow
falls upon me at midday.
I myself do not dream, which proves
there is some mercy in the world,
though it be denied you.
You, walking, peering at the suicide’s
milled shaft, the engraved flicker
of a salmon—
You walk right through the ash
palace, in which the child sleeps,
and yet you notice nothing.
You will look it up later, you tell
yourself.You will not be
like these other tourists, who climb
the half-broken wall
so that they may take photographs
of things I cannot see.—There,
a speckle of your thought
brushes my jeweled hem.I who heal
the light bind you
now with my perfect appetite:
Not wicked like a hook, but clean.

About the Author

G.C. Waldrep

G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are feast gently (Tupelo, 2018), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the long poem Testament (BOA Editions, 2015). Newer work has appeared in APR, Poetry, Paris Review, New England Review, Yale Review, Iowa Review, Colorado Review, New American Writing, Conjunctions, etc. Waldrep is a member of the Old Order River Brethren. He lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University and edits the journal West Branch.