If we belonged to the dead, if we had our own Egyptian culture of care— the amulets of home entombed for solace everywhere— would we then have found a better way to cast beyond the merely given earth? If you want to follow me you'd better leave your plaid suitcase and makeup kit behind. I hope you won't mind the narrow corridor; the air in the chamber's thinned out. In this dark I think my life's an old hinge creaking in silence. Open the door and you'll see the creatures I imagined while you were waiting: the green-eyed dog upright on his throne, the winged lion, the woman whose third eye brightens the room. She's the grinding lapis to paint the veins of her breast. Her nipples are coated with gold. It's true they rarely speak but you're welcome to ask their names. Most days they lie and dream among the harps. They suffice for themselves, neither giving nor receiving. See how they wither in the momentary glance, turn to dust on the steps we climbed to get here.
Again the white blanket icicles pierce. The fierce teeth of steel-framed snowshoes bite the trail open. Where the hardwoods stand and rarely bend the wind blows hard an explosion of snow like flour dusting the baker in a shop long since shuttered. In this our post-shame century we will reclaim the old nouns unembarrassed. If it rains we'll say oh there's rain. If she falls out of love with you you'll carry your love on a gold plate to the forest and bury it in the Indian graveyard. Pioneers do not only despoil. The sweet knees of oxen have pressed a path for me. A lone chickadee undaunted thing sings in the snow. Flakes appear as if out of air but surely they come from somewhere bearing what news from the troposphere. The sky's shifted and Capricorns abandon themselves to a Sagittarian line. I like this weird axis. In 23,000 years it will become again the same sky the Babylonians scanned.