It was another era, almost another century,
I was going to say. The saint wept quietly
in her ebony pew. It was the thing to do.
Then garlands of laughter, studded with cloves and lemons,
joined the standing figures with their distant nimbi.
Inexplicably, all was well for a time.
Soon, discordant echoes reined in the heyday:
It was love, after all,
that everybody was talking about
and nobody gave a shit for.
But why am I telling you about all this, who wrote the book,
who stamped his initials in the fairway
for all blokes to see? And it if only came
down to this smidgen, would apes and penguins be any wiser
for all the tunnels of love we shuffled through,
scared by skeletons, by bats, at every turning
of our loose-leafed trajectory through shallow water?
Only when the iodine sunset
bleeds again against red day, will all children
get permission to go out where the grass is short,
where the absent-minded postman leaves earnests of his passing
from this day to the next, where the eaves are clipped
close to the houses. Five days from the last clerestory
your ambiance drained into the pockmarked shutters.
Obviously the jig was up. What’s that? Whose jig? O I can see clear
ahead into the flying; the poor don’t talk much about it,
but her apron is ambrosial with trellised stars,
her stance stares down even the most unquiet,
and on days like this you ride free.
There was such numismatics in his pocket
as only jitterbugs in cyberspace could conjugate
while from fate’s awning the diamond drip descended, bigger
than both of us, big as all outdoors.
© John Ashbery