Non potest puella in arborem se vertere, nisi de illo somniat.
Nelavsius, Suasoriae I.707
She glimmers through the bark, the bark itself
a cringing pattern on that canvas pale,
her eyes irregular, their imagery stale,
her trunk's aloof reflection cut in half
by the perimeter of the protruding pond
so that her crown grows on the sand
with leafy roots upon the other end.
She stretches, elongates, her many hands
probe the extremity of her confinement,
sifting through the water lilies
and the floccose stems –
like one who senses,
conversant in many tongues,
the heedless breath of elusive meaning,
the thunder hidden in a little thing,
but misses it, and tries and misses it again –
the minotaur inside his labyrinth,
the bull tormented under human pain,
the yet unwritten myth
on the dead Greek's tongue,
the remnants of the scattered throng
gasping and wriggling on the Russian snow.
Daphne, when the huge and sparkling sphere
lay on your shoulder, pressed you low,
you, wishing to be anywhere but there,
what worlds did you imagine ? What restful worlds,
the birds whizzing through the dark mature air,
the black lakes letting in the thirsty herds,
the moons extinguished, the undrawn orbits
sensed but instinctively by the dusky universe,
the gloomy laurel-trees above the pond,
persisting, stretching out and beyond ?
But there is no out, no beyond.
The sun receives by its desire to want,
and anything it wants it lights anew
with everything, and when it wanted you,
it gave you this fugue-woven laurel-tree,
this pond with its remote solemnity,
kissed you through your imaginary bark,
reached for your breasts enveloped by the dark,
flashed up, invaded, cleft the Grecian tomb
sent the myth-writer to his daughter's womb,
so that your fear, and remorse, and rue
grow like a tree and bloom away from you.
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