Long after Hopkins

Brian Teare
Nothing at dusk, lord, but dust 

                              and road to keep it. The field kneels 

under white pines, umbra the edge 

                              to whom this is addressed : 

a mind part fern, part birch : 

                              two turkeys slowly S-ing their necks 

through inflorescence, arrangement 

                              more precise than what light leaves 

fields : painterly flowers more color 

                              than picture, more words for color 

than tint : alizarin or violet, you could 

                              write goldenrod, write cornflower, 

but Queen Anne's lace still hems 

                              the low horizon. Faith, what is it 

abides, what's left of pastoral 

                              but unreality. Ask artifice. Ask ornament. 

Go ahead and ask : what principle 

                              animates the natural : owl pink Lady's Slipper 

orchid white-tailed deer woodchuck : 

                              is it only what's visible that's knowable. 

Twenty dandelions gone to seed; 

                              tent worms slung in the articulated 

tree; what's tiresome : mind 

                              unanswered, writing to supply 

scaffolds to hold up scenery, nothing 

                              but queries and plywood, string 

strung to a high struck bell auguring : 

                              it's too late to see a third turkey 

left headless, wreck of feathers 

                              the owl scared, scattered in grass—

More by Brian Teare

Eden Incunabulum


"As his unlikeness fitted mine"—

so his luciferous kiss, ecliptic : me pinned beneath lips bitten as under weight of prayer, Ave—but no common vocative, no paradise above, and we not beholden to a name, not to a local god banking fever blaze his seasonal malady of flowers—nor to demi-urge nor the lapsarian system’s glittering, how later we spoke between us of sacred and profane as if the numinous could bring death—the only system—to bear burn outside him and hang its glister wisdom and singe in the viridian wilt. Lilt, to break salt in that sugar where skin was no choice and sanguine, not blameless, though, Ave, I loved our words for want beginning liquor, squander sip and fizz : fuck, ferment I loved and bluebottles tippling windfall rot, bruises’ wicked wine gone vinegar beneath the taut brief glaze of wings, but it was not yet nameable, what we later called disease : script brought us by the trick snake’s fakey Beelzebubbery. In the dirt with his dictionary skin, tight skein of syllables knit by un- numbered undulating clicking ribs, the snake slunk and stung and spelled the dust with his tongue and tail and was nothing, a black forked lisp in the subfusc grass hued blue as the blue sky tipped its lip to ocean horizon and filled, hugest amphora, and sank, evening, Ave, I will tell you now I loved it all. That in his hot body there was something similar to the idea of heat which was in my mind, that when we alembic, lay together, we bequeathed the white fixed earth beneath ardent water and a season’s kept blood, and I not a rib of his, not further hurt in his marrow—for the idea of death was in him, the only system—and we lay together in the field that was not yet page, not begun with A—, not alpha nor apple, not Ave, not yet because what we knew was the least of it then. It was difficult to sleep with the love of words gone gospel between my thighs where nightly he’d jack the pulpit, Ave Corpus, Ave Numen, gnosis and throb unalphabetical, I will tell you I loved it all, fastest brushfires and dryburns his body’s doublecross, garden lost to loss, incurable season : wilt, lilt : singe, our song. And the snake, lumen skin of alphabets, rubbing his stomach in the dust until his tin eyes filled with milk, his slack skin flickered and split and new black sinew out of the slough dead lettered vellum legless crept and let fall wept whisper, hiss, paperhush : with the skin language left behind I bind time to memorial : Book of Our Garden Hours, illuminated bloom : Here a gilt script singe sings of heat split in its leaves, and the bee gives suck to the book : Ave Incunabulum, love’s first work : Ave, In Memoriam— [ J—5/99 ]


Incunabulum: a book printed at an early date (esp. before 1501). "as his unlikeness fitted mine"—from Tennyson’s In Memoriam

Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as responding.


thought begins as small floral bowls  :  they hold greens—broccoli stalks,


                                                       chopped kale—against Chinese blue


                                                       very dark, with a greenish tint :




the way a silence falls to each side


of the knife's stroke, the colors rhyme


softly and I think, I'll miss this when I die.    This is how I enter appearances


Separation is the necessary condition for light.


so it came to me to 
carry the abandoned 
mattress to the attic      

                         a month dead my father
		         waited hillside in the field 
 			 surrounding his house 

I was glad to see him
to remember when
the fathers seemed 

                          generic     related     a class
    			  of things as uniform as trees 
                          are when you don’t know
			
their names     a stand
of them across the field 
I want to say autumn

                           aspens     the late fathers 
                           blonde as early evening
 			   wind startles their eyes 
 
and makes of your name 
a sail      a boat above roots 
that rise to stem that rise 

		            to leaf his door and cornices    
                            his felt hat and mattress 
                            empty     it feels like forever
				
above the flickering field     
the fathers shrinking 
far beneath our feet



for Lisa Fishman