You are on page 1of 59

The disaster takes care of everything.

Maurice Blanchot

Table of Contents

CAST OF CHARACTERS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1 ACT I…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

sotto voce …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3

A cold of green, a calm of apple…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….4

Winter……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………5

Serafina, shivering………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….6

pianoforte ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………8 ACT II…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9

Serafina, playing piano………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….10 Refugee Camp……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….11 At Ponary………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………12

13

ACT III…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

In

the House at Nuostolis…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14

In

Salt Grass, ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

Serafina would have admired an empty shell, reflecting light…………………………………………………………… 16

I have wandered with you to this cloister…………………………………………………………………………………………….17

I am happening to you and I am of the seasons………………………………………………………………………………… 18 all we’ve done…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 19 That Day………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………21 to speak of the disaster……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….22 ACT IV………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….28 saying nothing of the disaster…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 29 Serafina, when you still……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….30 these unready laments……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 31 The Wedding……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….32

In the House at Erntefest…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….33

Serafina, I meant to hear you………………………………………………………………………………………………………………34

In the House at Schadenfreude ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………35

moth……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………36

ACT V………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 37

Serafina, at dawn…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………38 Blood Horse…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………39 Old Woman, Weaving………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….41

In the House at Gruenwald………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….42

Blackbirds…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….43

Sweetgum…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….44

Hanging at Buna……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………45

In the House at Muselmänner………………………………………………………………………………………………………………46

Serafina, your unrung heart………………………………………………………………………………………………….………………47

The Sick Bed………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….48 ACT VI………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 49

Revelus…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………50

Homicide………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………51

In the House of the Dolls………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………52

an impossibility of gaze…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………53

Numbers……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….54

Epilogue……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Cast of Characters

FATHER, all that’s

SERAFINA

. Tenor

.Silent .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. a star has fallen from the East and also from the West. It appears in th e morning as zealous. To those who looked upon it from one direction, it appeared to be rising. Others could only agree that it had fallen. To the Scientists, the orb was a planet, reaching the end of its days, collapsing upon itself creating a black hole that trumpeted the end of the world. The Scientists have always known the certainty of our shared disaster. There were those who saw

it only with their eyes. And those who saw it as through a veil. And those who removed the veil to find their eyes consumed. Serafina was one of these. To the Architects, it was the ideal structure so that all structures built afterward would be ideal. To the Scholars and to the Doctors, it was knowledge and unbridled understanding, at great cost. To the Rulers, it was an Affirmation of their will to power. To the Sages an d Seers, the star was secret. To Father, the flaming meteor was seraphim with six flaming wings, bearing the news of death, some in speech and some in silence. The star cauterized Serafina’s voice, and burned her up as it fell.

. acknowledges no one and is acknowledged by no one. The disaster is always before us and we are forever running after it. We are on the edge of it. In perpetuity.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

NELAIMĖ

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.Bass

UPĖ

.

.

. woman who came to the cross, finding it full. And a woman who came to the tomb, finding it empty. Woman who danced so as to seduce the King and was given a disembodied head.

Soprano

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

. as a man, we have called him Tiwaz, and called himself/herself Shi when among those living in the East. The Greeks have named her Mnemosyne an d also Lethe. And the Germanic peoples have not called her Spiegel. Only after reparations were made did they look her in the face. But once, two German girls, in a theater, laughing. The Italians have called her Storia and have driven her from that country. The Polish cannot speak of her without weeping. There is no word for her in Hebr ew that is not an anathema, because silence can no longer exist in that language. In American English, we name only the current through which Up ė glides in her birchbark canoe. Stacking the riverbanks so high that nothing of the scenery can be observed through hill an d the canebrake. Call her Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson, East. Call her Ohio.

Mezzo soprano

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

CALANTHE

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.All Other Voices

Act I

An unpeopled stage, made of unremarkable dark wood turning blonde only when the soft yellow glow of a dim spotlight illuminates it. CALANTHE is standing dead center, nervous. Breath stammers from the half open mouth, the membrane dry. All moisture, now in the hands.

CALANTHE:

A story once fell into the world.

I know you are asking yourself now: why should I be the one to tell it? Let me defend myself.

This story came as all other things have come: at night, murdered in shadows. In drought, when so many have died for want of water. It came to me like the calamity, unavoidable. It flowed in the current of time. It caverned the face of the old woman, bringing to me a scroll clutched in her vellum hands. In the morning, I ate the lowhanging fruit from its branches and in the afternoon, I buried its seed in the garden. And I tended the vineyard.

When I went down from the house, I clothed myself in its weave, even in the heat, when I would rather be naked within a cool labyrinth of walls. I found it hidden in the artichoke’s bracts, disguised as a poison curled inside th e seed of the apple. The greengrocer knew of it, but he did not know its name, or how it had come to grow among us.

It was drawn up from the well, its flavor in the water was the flavor of soft moss, the taste of

limestone in ancient citadels. Those who dr ank of it for too long a time forgot everything. I have seen legions of men drunk of it and still wanting. It arrived with a flock of geese hidden in the sound of their thunderous wings. It traveled here by train, clothed in a distraught woolen coat an d carrying a battered leather suitcase. It had wandering, hollow eyes.

I sat at the table with it, pouring wine from the decanter. I placed the cheese and olives, the plums

before it. When it was satisfied, it opened its mouth and began to speak of itself. When it begged me

write the history of it, I wrote.

What else could I do?

sotto voce

A shadow, the length of quiet sotto voce on Ravensbrück

gash of dawn halved shell of sky

ash

brutal grooves

bone

halfshell of a mother's loud arm to lull a child

a hammering of bullets so many birch trees

naked on a dead hill

A cold of green, a calm of apple

a tree in a feeling of rough time

passing slowly until wind

a clean of white, a gleam of lavender

a name forgotten: but people sitting on a lawn in summer though a dread of winter approaching a brick is painful, though smooth and cool. All the same, to lay my head against it is not murder.

The blackberries?

and with them,

the birds go.

Gone.

Winter

Yesterday evening, the black barked magnolia laid down its tonguepink blooms,

weary of outshining the sweetgum.

Serafina, shivering

To get to her, white of wisteria,

A day,

rowing by without weeping.

Blind, the stars and soundless, the vine

unwinding in the afternoon away from unbending evening

in wind

the chimes of petals and leaves:

two voices

in silent agitation.

To get to her, white in mysteries,

rove the barricade, the barbed and weeping stars.

A father’s ear hears blindly.

She unknows the stones, unknows the water.

Here, breath shallowing—

toothed voices of extreme duration.

pianoforte

Music has taken the temple.

A blight song

for our wintering. Sound

woven through our captors' fingers through their cuneiform bones

from this hymnal of our bodies a measure is performed.

Our likeness: to the string stricken

a chord corded

From where does music spring? From what upwelling?

Violence has musicked us. Our tremolo musics the world.

From long, low notes, an isolated tone inviolate and sustained:

A blade of grass

greening in Ravensbrück

ACT II

Reveal what Salome has seen.

SALOME: ( before the brick wall, intact and seemingly immovable. The way she stands with her ear slightly elevated, her head angled to her shoulder, her eyes squinting as though she can see sound like a petal drifting down, her eyebrows knitted beneath the lines on her forehead jagged like an uneven hem— you can see she is listening to something far off. Dreamily ):

Who would have expected such music? As if music could still be made in Kovno—

Stupel is the violin soloist

But no safe passage, as a fog is lulling in.

UPĖ : a child of whom we know nothing is immediately

FATHER (covering his ears): Oh! Oh!

and S. Hofmekler conducts

torn from language.

SALOME (dancing): I remember music barreling through the trees and in my memory there is always snow! The grey images are bitter cold, yet I must have seen green because there were trees. Like a harrowed old man, summer toppled into autumn in only a moment. All green leaves turned scarlet and fell.

UPĖ : a child of whom we know little is

pressed into my arms.

CALANTHE (to Up ė , a searing indictment): You didn’t even try to save her!

UPĖ : What could I do? Handless as I go toward dawn?

NELAIMĖ (creeping onto the stage): There are those who say I pushed Serafina into Up ė’s arms when the men like evergreens came with their bullets and their heavy stones and their wheels. But I would not crack the egg to release the chick, or open the chrysalis to free the butterfly, or sever the drupe to excise the pit.

UP Ė : a child of whom we know something is

this silent passive this dead eternity

Serafina, playing piano

Serafina sits down to the piano. The curled notes flock from her fingers and out the half open window.

Under her palm, the white bird flies beneath its own shadow.

.

Serafina says Father— This also is music. Silence wings through our rooms

beats and beats now that music has fled from our house.

Refugee Camp

Language unsettles us, turns us into geese that never home for very long.

so many rows of white wings so many dissonant voices

They have named us have painted us, and voiced us aloud.

They have turned our language into an instrument for unearthing.

They have planted this garden before. But we know its secret, we buried it, and keep it.

Yesterday, the swallow found an abandoned nest. Today, it incubates its young.

and tomorrow, so many wings will be loosed upon the world.

At Ponary

under

unearths

a jawbone of birch

in a bellrung, bankrupt forest

a boar rooting in deadwood

a white tooth

a jawbone of bone

below the seeding branch

unbridled there is a burning

in the East, six wings are lit

and plummet toward the nighting West.

undead

we go, embattled and migrant

only our breath remaining

no songs launched upon it

NELAIMĖ (to Salome):

His mouth a bloody gash words can now only be

our language,

our

ed.

context

Act III

oh,

violent

has

been

(Father refuses now to speak.)

sever

SALOME:

I can’t understand your words, Nelaimė, but I know your language. When we lost our own tongue, we spoke with yours.

UPĖ (holding a stone, smoothing a finger over its surface):

Father, look deeper. Nelaimė knows the history of this stone. Nelaimė tells it all the time.

(Father closes his eyes.)

In the House at Nuostolis

It is Father who walks here now, among the trees, as he did once, before he was old. Before the city

of Vilna was bled to death. Before those in Vilna wept because Bialystok was spared. Father cannot

help but see the house as it was, as he remembered it. It has never existed the way Father remembers it: which any old man who remembers can tell you.

Then, the House at Nuostolis did not huddle upon the ground as houses did during the war; when they shrank from the iron eagles that screeched overhead and the pachyderms that spit fire from their trunks an d wore steel armor, and chiseled ruts upon the country roads with their pickaxes of deafening sound.

The house wore a widemouthed grin when the door was open, its broad, frank gaze looking out over

a flat plain that must have been green with grass once. Surrounded by trees. All this land was Father’s and his fathers’ and they kept it and tilled it.

The land yielded the cedar from which the House at Nuostolis was built and Father whitewashed it when he was only a boy. He was not Father then. His daughter was on ly a dream the future kept dreaming until it awoke to find her also waking. Father named her Serafina, before he knew of the six flaming stars.

The house at Nuostolis was coquettish in the wintertime, hiding herself under a shawl of thick snow where only a tuft of her hair was visible like chimney smoke. In the cold, a golden light waltzed from the icegemmed windows and pooled its yellow gown upon the ground. In spring, the house was naked, admiring her figure in the drops of morning dew bejeweling the Rue leaves. Inside, only bread was leavening in the oven.

Impercep tibly, the winter began to appropriate the house. Curling like a cat clothed in great white fur, the chill huddled in the corners of the attic, far away from the wood burning stove. It pads with light feet on the tops of the trunks where inside nest mementos of another home from which the grandfathers came. From the Diaspora, we have come to Nuostolis.

A dissembling gnawed its way into the lathes and lattices of the House at Nuostolis. Every structure knows its destiny. This is why sadness lurks behind the darkened windows of all our houses. When Father looks into this vacancy, he sees the kn owledge of ruin and he acknowledges it.

It

was then that the house began to call itself Nustojimas.

In

the House at Nustojimas, wind ghosts through the rooms unseen, long talons of cold prying off the

shutters, slithering beneath the cracks of doors and the joists of rooves. Its tenor sutured through the storied throats of the halls. The rooms know there are ghosts. But the gust believes the rooms are the ghosts. The two do not understand one another.

This wind once had a dream of rooms, but the rooms dreamed they were bones buried under Ponary.

In the House at Nustojimas, collapse is underway. Father sees there are two roads. One rises up a

steep hill and into the tall thighs of trees. It is laid with blood red cobblestones. The other leads away from the house and all his ancestry: from the black hair of his mother clu tched in his father’s massive and impotent hands.

a greenness in the marsh. The loudness is weight inside a shell. Surface grooves twin the trumpet of the ear, outside this:

The round pebble of a bird’s insistent chirping. An interruption of roots.

Sky drops

kingfisher as if it was stone.

Lake surfaces,

The herons unbranch themselves.

In Salt Grass,

and mirrors. Grooves of disturbance

resemble the trumpet of the ear outside this:

Rails call one another, each clap a bone. This ribcage of sound. Her heart, too,

beats against bone.

Rotting joints and timbers:

Carcass of structure, built for farseeing.

Grateful for collapse, a cicada iridesces.

Trees suggest distance when one is this far from home. A frustration of wings.

Which way the bird flew,

Serafina would have admired an empty shell, reflecting light

The tide has already come to us where seabirds settle

upon the sun bleached rocks the cool wind's light, light

harrowing all that has filled bereft and emptied

tried by the waves and made smooth

one scoops his head beneath his wing shivers down

a rustle of wings and your mother of pearl

I have wandered with you to this cloister of only female voices

empty as uncurled palms when no alms have been given

I have sought you in the onslaught of ruddy fallen leaves

through bleeding pennons of the vine a stain of harpsong about them

our fingers without syntax our thighs without sound

want having taken the flesh that was between them

I

am happening to you

and I am of the seasons

I

go

and I return

with two gypsy children, sewn together

twin trees I neither watered nor cut down

I am enclosures

and I am gallowing

I am also

the lady’s fingers around the flower stems

I am joyous

I am gathered in a vase before the fourpaned window

and I am impotent

among the vacuous dead

I am happening to you, lachrymal and hapless—

now hollow

But let us be cheerful!

awed by the raven pecking

but there are other skeletons in this war— firebombed structures of utility,

as bird’s bones.

a green leaf uncurls and drinks

a pride of dandelions basks on the hillside

 

Still,

the clover summons bees and honey is made

This is not my fault.

I

am you

happening to yourselves.

The naked women are

white orchids

but I did not pluck them

up in handfuls

and did not spread them

on the water.

But when they fell,

they were numerous as leaves

I

saw it—

I

recorded it in the loam.

Tell me.

To read

Yesterday, the rain fell.

this history requires a spade.

Tomorrow is for planting.

all we’ve done

the crocus bleeding from soil

hook & eye

petals unfastening

above buried root

all we’ve done

wind aching

through bayonet trees.

from treebranch

unhinges

it’s falling time

mockingbird

fractals coming

unglued

and the boy

who rakes the leaves

is sleeping

in the haywain.

That Day

That day it was raining.

Spearheads fell on receding white snow, moonlight, a great silver sickle, sliced through

darkness

The sapling

shuddering

at winter’s disrobing.

So, of you, cherry tree,

I tell it like this:

wind coerces your head down—

Relent.

every opening,

I watch you grow. Bonetall, oakening more each winter.

This earliest memory still rooted in the seed

Cold fingers seize

pry out the newwhite blossom.

bark thick

Bend the twigs

beneath your spreading.

and

bend.

this your youth the awful moment of your happening

to speak of the disaster

perceive the livid peony

said into eloquent terrain

its indigo assertions

among so often greens

golden poppies among graying stones

so many are our petaled bones

and zinnias’ magenta wounds

now lean the trees, ashen and uncertain

a fervor of crows

in an atrocity

of brown leaves

now gleams thorned sunlight

on

asphalt

mosaic of leaves

elated and ornamental

black pigeon, blood raw eye

blood blossoms rosettes

on the dying man’s chest

the geranium

here, a wasp busily—

us waiting for the cops—

a building, nonchalant

some distance from the curb,

cars passing. no one in the windows.

his abdomen a cloven fig,

breaths humming through

our fingers like a sieve.

when we wake nowhere near the ocean

we move and move, unshelled and tidal

swell to the cliff face

fall to the sea bottom

islandish and woeful

we crash and crash

sucking the sand

from under our own feet

the mountain, disoriented then,

speaks

the trees

out against.

mown down

the cavern

trumpets ash

the chasm

widens

the stumps

gaunt shadows

behind the huddled larkspur

haunt us.

one day, after the war had ended, a skeletal woman begged us to feed her and to feed her child

and we took the bread and milk and we gave her just enough because we could see her own milk was dried up

we put the crust to her lips— shriveled seed pods in the branches of her black hair— and she held the milk to the mouth

of the babe in her arms, its eyes dark as unlit lanterns.

now the chasm,

widening

 

the trees

gaunt

the

huddled larkspur

the white

and

mottled arms

she tottered a few feet,

her joints unhinged, and

 

fell.

having done our work having eaten our dinner having thought of each other without touching,

we lie down to sleep in our separate houses

as the evening, impoverished, unravels.

ACT IV

Artillery fire and a burnt music. An owl screeches. The wall is shaken. Holes begin to appear. Behind the brick wall, Salome stops dancing. Her white fingers peer through the shattered spaces. Silence.

SALOME :

How many times have I died? So many bones like birches lying prostrate in austere bunks papery rinds sloughed from the trunks

NELAIMĖ :

Quickstepped,

I have haunted the rails

heard the songs of Bethel but did not sing their freight

A different strain than sung

when a crust of bread was thrown among the hungry at Ludwigslust

SALOME ( ignoring Nelaim ė) :

Our grave misfortune! Our evening began with just one star and now—

CALANTHE:

So strange to see such a profusion of green leaves

in the forest

of so much suffering!

I once read about a girl named Serafina who ate the first spring blade of grass after a bitter winter. I have forgotten most of it.

SALOME (to Calanthe, fully visible now through a hole in the wall):

Where she, like a willowed tree, casting no shadow—

saying nothing of the disaster

When there is a woman perhaps in a red coat moving along Market in possession of a basket

then there are her hands having plucked blossoms gripping the unraveling handle coiled of dead grasses

here, murder has been committed unknowing all for impermanent beauty and a succulence before her window

when she bends to lift a white dove of paper collapsed at her feet

a flower falls from the basket dispetaled without sound

and how we never spoke of this disaster—

Serafina, when you still

have not appeared a shadow in the gleaming doorway

I go to the market at midday to weave

among the bins of fruit apricots and mottled pears

so often in the shape of the women who appraise them

The grocer counts them the housewives thump them for ripeness

the men thump the women for ripeness lick the red lipped apples of them

all of the men and the women wearing yellow stars

these unready laments

That we were not opened to be lauded with seed

so we would no longer flourish into swelling psalm

or wild strawberry then bled from the hillsides

divide us, devil, from the river floating upon its mirror

the leaves, anguished from the trees

soon after, our branches were burned

unripe fruits gathered by vulgar hands

The Wedding

The cedar’s roots unburied

the trunk split

the chrysalis cut down

nothing now is transformed blossoms

the unfurled

nothing emerges

throttled

nothing remains

from the

branch

crushed beneath

the feet of the bride

and groom’s union

a marriage

that defiles

our blood

we have been severed

from our own wives

and spread before

the altar of our enemies.

In the House at Erntefest

Here, herbs are bruised in the mortar, ground by the pestle to fine powder. The heads of wheat are heavy. In the fields , stalks march in golden rows to the threshing floor. The pear trees lift their aged hands, full of fruit. The ponds leap with fish.

The grapes hang heavy on the vine. The apple opens its heart to the earth, its kernel buried for safekeeping. The fig ripens. A mother’s womb flowers. The House at Erntefest is made of all things that are threshed.

Father neither harvested the wheat, nor unburdened the vine. But watched in silence as the Harvesters wove through the fields, clouds of chaff above them in an ochre heat. Silent also, as the grapes were plucked and pressed. No part is wasted. The wheat stalks are made into bedding, the grape seeds ground into oil.

Father remembers the black cloud approaching from the East, bringing a storm lasting for days. The ponds were eyes red rimmed with clay. The trees bowed down. The sun fled. The House at Erntefest, shook with rage: the fields flattened, the bread unleavened and the vine bereft.

Serafina, I meant to hear you

as if a waterfall or as if a current or as if each droplet

fell, continuing to fall did the apple redden

did the leaves’ veins become silent as if after lightning and just before thunder

and did it make a sound as it fell or were there

loud voices screaming, little blood pinpricked on your cheek where

my hand percussed but did the tip of your

index finger touch a coolness in the hot horned ivory once be longing to an elephant’s

uncommon tusk? or was it my impassive face I remember so well?

Well,

Was it?

In the House at Schadenfreude

Father remembers how, once, when he was a boy, hunting elk, its bugling screamed through the forest. His own father’s eyes sparked with excitement like struck flint as he shouldered his rifle. The hunters’ footsteps thrummed through the filigree of dull brown leaves on the fo rest floor as they chased that scream.

Years later, he would remember the red brown blood gurgling down the animal’s velvet sides, not for its color or its warmth, but for its smell: like bile tunneling under the roots of the cedars at Ponary.

Too young, Father, laughing all the way to the House at Sc hadenfreude, told the story of how the beast with its magnificent hooves had struck out one way, then another, its antlers tangling in the lowhanging branches of the linden trees, its graceful body shifting direction like a red foamed, cresting wave. Until the shot that brought him down.

In the House at Schadenfreude, the planks that form the walls have been stolen from other immigrants’ houses. At night, thieves from the ghetto pry the beams away from the crumbling foundations of their brothers’ houses. So many structures in the city are collapsing. Carts drag the clapboards down the rutted streets in the cover of darkness.

It will not be long before the thieves come again, dismantling the House at Schadenfreude we have built of stolen timber.

When we have been dragged from the house and have left on the lorries, when we can no longer recall a sweet music riffed through the golden leaves, or hear the elk’s scream or feel its warm flesh just starting to cool, when I am taking your crust of bread and running from your outstretched arms, when we are unnatural and unclothed and unfed,

we will carry the bones of this house with us

and inside us.

moth

urgent

 

my knuckle fell against

her bird like body

 

yielding as dust

plummeted

 

riffed down

mahogany

 

on mahogany.

where is the white moth of your hip?

ACT V

Father stands before a brick wall, once solid, now blasted with holes. He looks into the darkness of one of the lacunas, and a small, white light starts to flutter through the blackness like a moth’s wings flicker when firelight shatters upon them. Upė flows through one of the larger holes an d reaches out for Father, who turns away.

Father : Serafina, in time we have come to the river hairlock curling around the bend under the cloudless cathedral

Up ė ’s white gown flutters behind her, so many great bird wings. When he sees her, will Father think of the refugee camp? Or will he imagine oleander? Up ė reaches out to him, but he hastens past her, averting his eyes.

Up ė (exasperated): He will not look. Or if he looks, he will not see.

Father:

a sky that bends to its knees and hands that scoop cool water to your white face sunlight aches upon your crown as you weave among the bulrushes

Up ė (interrupting Father) : Father, my bones are stones and the stones are her bones. Look beneath.

Father (speaking loudly over the flow of Upė ’s rippling voice):

stalks daunted by the weight and lean of your thighs the pivot of your hips and your palm grazing their heads as though you give gold to the people

Up ė shakes her head and retreats back into the hole in the brick wall.

Father:

And so— when you kneel to gather the brittle, bare clamshell the day hushes when you say you have both given all that you can

Serafina, at dawn

I woke, as usual, You, nowhere in our house.

Barefoot into the kitchen, fruit softening on the table.

Between crooked shutters, a pink welt across night’s back,

the soluble grain of dawn,

its ruins.

this hour,

Blood Horse

I.

the shivered limb

so all our prayers as muted trumpets

our enemies usurping our peace

a crushed petal of red hibiscus

gushed out, nuanced, and fell upon the stones

sit down. carve your grief upon this rock

sing your fear for lack of covering

our barbaro is dying.

II.

The splintered limb

and so the trees have left you, uniform in their uprooting

harbor: gleam and fall no more safe keeping.

refugee blossom hued with kamala seed

sleeps the tumulus sleep our wintering

black smoke ash over canaan

hewn down now breaks the laden bough

sheds its cargo of crimson leaves.

Old Woman, Weaving

She kneads the bounty of the spring lamb’s shearing.

Between the crushing combs, each strand is fractured.

Her oak knot heel propels the ceaseless spindle

against the motionless afternoon heat the crimson thread of your familiar

voice

unwinding in the loom.

In the House at Gruenwald

Father once compared the House at Gruenwald to a burr ensnared in the fur of a hunted doe.

He who is resourceful scrapes clean the white pickets of its bones, boiled even to the marrow.

This house—its structure—lopes through thickets threatened by the hammer’s claw or is this

the deer threatened by the hammered bullet? The animal is soon destroyed; the house soon dismantled.

But, it is erected yet again by those who carry it on their backs. Those who