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for jeanne*

Jeanne Moreau 1954

Look into my eyes

And call the birds

To pick the pieces

Of the sacred host

A loaf of bread

Destined for the legions

Of ship-wrecked soldiers

At the bottom of the sea.

See your mother’s brow?

Or my mother’s?

Your self-same eyes

Reflected in the silver

Surface of the grey ocean

Piercing the depths

To the other side of the earth

Then measure my grief

As my weary limbs

Lose life’s breath in

Longing for the embrace.

Sweet yearning beckons

Like a distant siren’s

Metallic voice — electric harmony

Of a renunciation sweeter still —

As distance is your home

More material than perishable dust

And more real than throne, crown and sceptre.

Fly, fly away and enter home,

The sky a dome of preternatural infinity

As the mocking bird

Checks the progress of the watch

And cries you tardy.

The hublot falls face down

And splinters in a thousand pieces

Against the pink marble floor

As you claw into Leda’s1 thigh

And devour her vessel’s contents

Ruby red and amarone thick

Her brow, your mother’s same,

Twirled in the shape of your heart

And offspring most unnatural

Which you beget

To round the world

With your life story

As the long branches

Of the old willow in the park

Strangle your sons

In Laokoonian2 embrace.

Unborn and raised again

Your offspring then

Will rule the world

Once you are gone

With Leda, light as air,

A race of merciful creatures

That learned to bear

The burdens of sin

For your love’s sake

Its classical perfection,

Marbled, if timed, beauty

And its savage truth

Mirrored in my eyes

As you behold them now

And learn the name of mercy.


*postmortem dedication to Jeanne Moreau, a siren of the silver screen and champion of the kind of love, that out of compassion, care, or fear, we have grown accustomed to call “sick”  Interveiw , the kind of love to which Shakespeare dedicated most of his works, most explicitly Romeo and Juliette, and that the Western imagination has grown to associate with the botanical symbol is the sycamore tree

sycamore grove park, LA

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