Herman Melville / Martin Puryear
The plowed parking lot
has its massed harvest
by December's end—
a white hump, cornered
by commerce, grayed
by February. Its nine
to last and last,
more sculptured stone than snow.
Finally, March rain
wears the pocked surface away.
No one sees it melt,
it only fades,
revealing in layers
the debris of December—
here a wet ribbon, there a sodden string
tangled in the effluence of a cold
Our allowance of white whale
under the black wet pavement.
We stand in the parking lot's cold
and talk about the man who was found
frozen to death
curled on the stoop
of the realtor's office.
The bower of his own perfect
curving ribs (a kind of slow
drowning) a wrestling breath ...
but what do I know
of freezing to death? "In nature,"
"the furies stir."
The coffin-canoe that Queequeg
that was a carving by Martin Puryear;
and the lighted pole stuck in the spout hole
and the rope ladders in the rigging,
climbed to the point
where they are rungless spires—
these are his.
To seek to kill the furies
is to be a hooked
fury, a curved
Better to carve waves in grieving space.
Carve them in granite on a red wood floor.
Carve them in soapstone on marble.
Make one of clunky crosshatch
and call it Thicket,
an out-of-business wave.
Weave one in wicker and call it Bower—
a basket to make it.
Carve them in white pine on ebony. Carve prayers
from the hidden hub, heliotropic wheels,
beneath the floor.
The mind is for the world,
poured out, broken,
like the king's spikenard at a christening.
I might ask Puryear
to carve for Pip a fragrant
cedar corpus on a white pine cross
to hold in his arms like Queequeg's Yojo,
to hold in my arms when I sleep.
Enigma and Light
Copyright © 2012 by David Mutschlecner
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission