Forth Into View, Random Warriors

- 1940-
The slender checkered beetle, pale
earth brown, sallies forth from among 
the bark canals of the oak, the eaten mar 
of the woody gall left dying.  Her spiny 
yellow hairs sparkle in the summer sun.

Lacewings, locust, and laurel loosen
cocoon, carapace, and bud, shimmy out
and pause, airing wings expanding like rumpled
petals, spreading petals opening like slatted 
wings, as they pass into the new world.

Toe by toe the children of the sun depart 
from the east out of living fire to become
spikes, glumes, anthers, sheaves, broad
montane grassland, flowing steppe, 
savannah, veld, wild horse pampas. 

The fiddler crab with his royal blue 
spot emerges beside the great charging 
dawn of the morning sea, scuttles sideways 
out of the drenched sands and savory 
mud bank of the tidal marsh.

Now echoes in cougar lairs, snake crannies,
coon burrows, the hillside den of gray fox.  
Moonrat's  nose appears from the crevice 
in the bluff, sniffing fish and wormy mud.  
Turtle's beak shows at shell's edge first.
Claws and feet extend directly.
		
The smooth, golden-green swale 
of the trout swivels upward, breaks 
through the boundaries of sky 
with its mouth wide open gulping day.

After parting the flap, after gripping 
the knob, after lifting the latch, after kicking 
the door until the hinges crack and fail 
and the hindrance falls, then the jaunt, 
the saunter, the sprint, the lope, the totter, 
ramble and meander, the traipse and slink,
the shamble, shuffle, gallop and glide, 
the push against the beyond begins.

More by Pattiann Rogers

Nearing Autobiography

Those are my bones rifted
and curled, knees to chin,
among the rocks on the beach, 
my hands splayed beneath my skull
in the mud. Those are my rib
bones resting like white sticks
wracked on the bank, laid down,
delivered, rubbed clean
by river and snow.

Ethereal as seedless weeds
in dim sun and frost, I see
my own bones translucent as locust
husks, light as spider bones, 
as filled with light as lantern
bones when the candle flames.
And I see my bones, facile,
willing, rolling and clacking,
reveling like broken shells
among themselves in a tumbling surf.

I recognize them, no other's,
raggedly patterned and wrought, 
peeled as a skeleton of sycamore
against gray skies, stiff as a fallen
spruce. I watch them floating
at night, identical lake slivers
flush against the same star bones
drifting in scattered pieces above.

Everything I assemble, all
the constructions I have rendered 
are the metal and dust of my locked
and storied bones. My bald cranium
shines blind as the moon.

Counting What the Cactus Contains

Elf owl, cactus wren, fruit flies incubating
In the only womb they'll ever recognize.
Shadow for the sand rat, spines
And barbary ribs clenched with green wax.
Seven thousand thorns, each a water slide,
A wooden tongue licking the air dry.

Inside, early morning mist captured intact,
The taste of drizzle sucked
And sunsplit. Whistle
Of the red-tailed hawk at midnight, rush
Of the leaf-nosed bat, the soft slip
Of fog easing through sand held in tandem.

Counting, the vertigo of its attitudes
Across the evening; in the wood of its latticed bones--
The eye sockets of every saint of thirst;
In the gullet of each night-blooming flower--the crucifix
Of the arid.

In its core, a monastery of cells, a brotherhood
Of electrons, a column of expanding darkness
Where matter migrates and sparks whorl,
And travel has no direction, where distance 
Bends backward over itself and the ascension
Of Venus, the stability of Polaris, are crucial.

The cactus, containing
Whatever can be said to be there,
Plus the measurable tremble of its association
With all those who have been counting.

In General

This is about no rain in particular,
just any rain, rain sounding on the roof,
any roof, slate or wood, tin or clay
or thatch, any rain among any trees,
rain in soft, soundless accumulation,
gathering rather than falling on the fir
of juniper and cedar, on a lace-community
of cobwebs, rain clicking off the rigid
leaves of oaks or magnolias, any kind
of rain, cold and smelling of ice or rising 
again as steam off hot pavements
or stilling dust on country roads in August.
This is about rain as rain possessing
only the attributes of any rain in general.

And this is about night, any night
coming in its same immeasurably gradual
way, fulfilling expectations in its old
manner, creating heavens for lovers
and thieves, taking into itself the scarlet
of the scarlet sumac, the blue of the blue
vervain, no specific night, not a night
of birth or death, not the night forever
beyond the frightening side of the moon,
not the night always meeting itself
at the bottom of the sea, any sea, warm
and tropical or starless and stormy, night
meeting night beneath Arctic ice.
This attends to all nights but no night.

And this is about wind by itself,
not winter wind in particular lifting
the lightest snow off the mountaintop
into the thinnest air, not wind through
city streets, pushing people sideways,
rolling ash cans banging down the block,
not a prairie wind holding hawks suspended
mid-sky, not wind as straining sails
or as curtains on a spring evening, casually
in and back over the bed, not wind
as brother or wind as bully, not a lowing
wind, not a high howling wind. This is
about wind solely as pure wind in itself,
without moment, without witness.
Therefore this night tonight--
a midnight of late autumn winds shaking
the poplars and aspens by the fence, slamming
doors, rattling the porch swing, whipping
thundering black rains in gusts across
the hillsides, in batteries against the windows
as we lie together listening in the dark, our own
particular fingers touching--can never
be a subject of this specific conversation