I took the night train there,
never dreaming.
To cross the straits
my boxcar crept onto a barge—there was screeching,
several tremendous thuds,
then with a growl
we sailed.
I was already half-awake,
anxious for a volcano, neolithic shrines,
islands to explore
off the main island…
At my stop,
early morning’s tarnish
fell on a shuttered newspaper stand
and torn campaign posters.
A child playing near a livestock car
sang about a weapon
detonated in another nation,
another hemisphere.

From the station
and the song,
I walked up the mountain road
to a garden where grizzly men with camera phones
greeted me, sleep still
in the corners of their eyes,
bougainvillea around their tents.
I was to be eternalized
and therefore loved.
They waxed my nose
and powdered my nether regions.
After oatmeal and coffee,
I was Jupiter’s—
his bardash, his
Ganymede, ningle, ingle,
trug—bracing
against a Doric column.

I felt numb a night later as rosemary blew through the lava
      fields.

More by Greg Wrenn

Ode, Aubade

And the morning, too,
falters,
struggles to
assert itself,

burn through
the errant
fog, the pines,
scorch the

whole grove
of trees
and crooked
streetlamps. Your

body’s turning,
turning
beside me
in my bed’s—

sprawl?
Badlands?
You sigh
on my neck.

Startled,
the crick
and sob buried inside it
like a pulsar

behind dust,
like a larva
in a bean,
want out.


 

About this poem:
"This speaker sees his defining characteristics in the dawn: ambivalence, self-doubt, and a capacity for destruction. What is the consolation to be had on such a morning? Beside him is his restless, still-sleeping bedfellow—love's capacity for transformation, for pushing the human animal toward self-realization, temporarily abides."

Greg Wrenn