[from Carol Frost's The Queen's Desertion, Triquarterly, 2006]
Lucifer in Florida
I Lucifer, cast down from heaven's city which is the stars,
soar darkly nights across the water to islands
and their runway lights -- after sunset burning petals;
sights, sorrows, all evils become the prolonged shadows
and lightning through palm trees and the ancient oaks.
. . . And ride with darkness, dark below dark, uttermost
as when the cormorant dives and the fish dies, eye-deep
in hell; the bird is I, I hide in its black shining
spread of wings raised drying afterward on a tree bough.
Nothing more onyx or gold than my dark wings.
Yet Venus rising, the off chords and tender tones
of morning birds among the almonds, small flames
of lemon flowers, phosphorus on the ocean,
all I've scorned, all this lasts whether I leave or come.
The garden fails but the earth's garden lives on
unbearable -- elusive scent on scent from jasmine
mixed with brine, the smell of marshes, smells of skin
of fishermen, burned rose and a little heroic
while leviathan winds rise and darkness descends.
Sin and death stay near, black with serenity,
calm in dawn's light suggestions. If the future is
a story of pandemonium, perfection's close --
from the sea the islands at night, from the island
the sea at night with no lights rest equally, lit by
a wanderer's memory bringing dark and light to life,
luminous and far as dreams endure, charcoal and flame
in a fire, the embers of pride and pain in each breath.
A slow storm coming across the gulf:
a raddling wind: wind in palmettos or a gaunt bird's bill?
Given ears and skin and eyes nose and tongue: given stories
of arrival -- the perfect birth, Alexander's tide, Caesar's --
oh yearn fear portend contrive praise deny but not abstract::
I've seen the reddened knees of students in winter
in shorts when there was merely a slant of cold sun
and once tentacle burns across the chest of a dead tourist --
how blue the sea is, box jellyfish too few and small
to matter. Neurotoxins, pfff. I'm . . . Well::
On leeward mangrove branches herons egrets:
yellow tridents rumbling far far away: on the horizon
a small bulge like the back of the giant
Hermes dolphin salt sparking dark come bearing::
The Queen's Desertion: Poems