Finally, the Shadow (shwt)
(inside the hem)
world the black
world the blank margin
there is no margin in the world
no place where the soul
no place where the mind
the dead animals
in this margin
lost time collects in the creases
diamond dust off a second
dust off an hour
dust it off! mantel of time!
would that I were outside my minute
(no death there)
we arrive & there's a corpse of an hour, it asks us
what happened here in this stinking
say: by my heart's wish I constructed a city —
at the foot of Mt. Muzri
in the countryside surrounding Nineveh —
and gave its name as Dur-Sharrukin
lost my shedu in the river
And in the Upper Paleolithic, we found ourselves
wild onager, red deer, sheep, goat, fox, gazelle, pig, cow, bird, clam, crab, tortoise and
snail. We ate them all.
Ate chrysanthemums, ate nasturtiums, every blossom, grass, anther and nut
Flower how hun-
gry you make me swim swim
to the river in asthmatic
sunlight colllect wild seeds there
By the river, the corpse of an hour, it asks us: what happened here.
say: we saw history
the rocks and grasses sang themselves into houses
geo-rubble turned to hut
we wandered the ruthless, splendid labyrinths laid out in green,
gold and blue, tangles of trees, of grassland, water, animal, weather, and sand
Married the river, married the rock, gold dug out was the dowry
and soon the hem of a train, steam-trail rising like wedding-dress dust
Soon so many persons made so many person things
till it seemed all that was left of the world was human
We built roads, built bridges, little plastic dolls with eyes that open and shut, seeded clouds
and nanocrystals and turned the heavens; made
infrared imaging capabilities on CRYSTAL reconnaissance satellites
made the military black world
How quickly sound travels through these acified oceans!
How quickly we folded spring into summer!
Constructed bio-available time!
Ate the quail, woodcock, the turtle, fattened liver, the veal calf
our tongues decaying
one by one
by my heart's
orifact, Mercury mouth
in the Holocene Epoch of the Quarternary Period in the Cenozoic Era of geologic time
Like atmospheric lace
dust-dress of the world never settles And inside the hem
winter steals a mouse
see how the air rises, sky-kissing
Eleni Sikelianos is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Body Clock and The California Poem, as well as a hybrid memoir, The Book of Jon. Her translation of Jacques Roubaud's Exchanges on Light appeared in 2009. She has been the recipient of awards from the National Endownment for the Arts, the The Fulbright Fellowships, The National Poetry Series, New York Foundation for the Arts, Princeton University's Seeger Fellowship, and the Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing, among others. Sikelianos teaches in the Naropa Summer Writing Program and the New England College MFA Program in Poetry as well as the Creative Writing Program at the University of Denver, which she also directs. She shares her days with the novelist Laird Hunt and their daugher Eva Grace.