PHILLIP LEE DUNCAN
KREIS AUS LICHT (A CIRCLE OF LIGHT)
GEWOHNHEIT IST EIN HIMMELSCHATZ (THE HEAVEN OF HABIT)
From The Hospice Orgy (available August 2016)
DEATH OF AN EGG TIMER (BIRTH OF A METRONOME)
My virus was beautiful under the mousewheel-
Powered microscopes of Dr. Chow Lin, unreal
Herbalist extraordinaire: twelve black umbrellas
Opened inside a single-celled teahouse. All bad
Luck, straw strewn to the subatomic winds, jealous
Of no Chartres, St. Michel, Rouen, or Petrograd,
Architecture was ecstasy in minutiae,
So I told myself as the old man drew my blood.
My virus was a true mother, an Erl Koenig
In drag, always protective of her white tunic
Full of mutants, those dodecahedrons of starch,
Protein and fatty acids whose dark fists rising
Banged numbly on the antibodies root and bark
Until gold leaves fell, the orchard atomizing.
She said:"O, my child, we shall work our cunning way
To the heart, the lungs, the liver, the balls and brain,
I will shield you." It is so late, so tongue-clamp cold
When I wake Dr. Lin in his swamp seraglio.
But I know my virus has changed. There. You see? Cups
And swords vibrating around an open red hand
Of twelve nub-fingers that slowly curl up then erupt.
Dull days go by, as days force a moot saraband
Around that burning pile of books, boots, shirts and skin
Where you loved me, ash on your sleeve, irrelevant.
Before I was infected, you loved me, almost...
Fiercely with the same tiger tongue, the aminos
The doctor gives me, the ones I leave on high shelves
Because you loved me. His bitter roots, gray mandrakes
(Twisted like washcloths for pulling teeth by yourself)
Are nothing to your salty fingertips, the taste
Of twelve tears that buttoned me up, belly to throat,
A schoolboy ready, knowing Psalms and Job by rote.
I am ashamed I replaced you so readily
With black dots and dashes, my hot flash telegraphy,
Orange skin, a crippling shiver. But the virus
Has rare conduits, high wires that lead to the one
Optic nerve that I have left. One must bear witness.
The old hand job will not do. There is no serum
That flows serendipitously, dissolving weight,
Despair and strange gold flakes from the pillowcase.
Lately the doctor has refused me an entrance,
He sees I'm no better, his cinnamon essence
(So carefully dehydrated, spiced, plucked, primed, pruned)
Was left for orphans on the forest's broken path
Where I am lost, but much better now, a living sand dune.
Much better, my grit in your mouth, my head in your lap,
Teacup in hand. Oh these woods are cruel...
Like my virus, its twelve syllables, its rhyming double moon
Blinding above us, not headlights yet.