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Ephemeron


Those are windflowers glowing in the outer darkness
    just beyond the gateposts. If I squint,
I see them clearly: white windflowers, flicker of star gas,
    bridal-veil nebula—an infinity bent
By the gravity of dawn and rain, but opening.
    It astonishes me again: I am fifty and pregnant,
And beyond the bedroom window September is gathering
    its cosmological light. A child, the windflower says.
What's that? Nothing. Or hardly anything
    five weeks beyond conceiving. And that monstrous
Morning star above the neighbor's gable mutters,
    enough. What's one more human? Heartless,
These elemental things, mist on the sidewalk, litter:
    And so there are gods again, suddenly.
The windflower opens its oblivious scripture
    as the sun advances degree by omniscient degree.
In the street a shadow of sparrows echoes the oil slick
    left by yesterday's downtown express. Details gather ominously,
And that is the point, precisely, a god's favorite trick—
    the accrual, like money in the bank, of our undoing.
But an arm's length away, the anti-entropic womb
    of my sleeping wife is growing
A consciousness. Listen, zygote. The windflower's true name:
    Anemone. Its true vocation: to be blowing
Against a wooden gate at 6 a.m.
    in the broken dawn-light of the fiftieth September
Of a man old enough to refuse to be ashamed
    of his own joy. And the windflower's fate? No matter.
It is enough, now, to watch it being.
    It is enough to be myself—again almost a father,
Watching the newsboy wander the street—feeling,
    almost, the old gods' abstract hearts contract.
I smell them gather above me like ravens, wheeling
    over the promise my body makes. Black-
Hearted godhood has left them hungry.
    But it is they who assemble, in the amniotic sac,
Bits of star-grit, skeins of DNA, the holy chemistry
    of existence. What can I do but leave them to it, even
Knowing what I know? My spiritual autobiography
    is a shambles-in-progress, my unfinished Confessions
A creaking stylized fiction from a distant century—
    it reads like a pirated version of a bad translation
Of a novel the young Balzac wrote, then threw away.
    No god forgives such things. The gods have taste.
Smelling an uncouth sulfur in the aura of the coming day,
    the Supreme Will wrinkles the Great Face.
The Gaze averts, and here's our chance. A space
    opens—ambiguous territory, zygote. Translucent. Our place.


T. R. Hummer

Ephemeron
Louisiana State University Press


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