for Ann Lauterbach
The lamb couldn’t become an iamb
much to my sorrow, much
to the lamb’s relief. My teacher said
the ocean hid in anapests,
in the lull of the wave, in the lull
of the prepositional phrase—
in dreams bright children drown
dependent on a dependent clause
for rudder through the rapids,
mesmerized by the solar asterisk
spinning in the eddy with the
gathering foam, dimly aware
something remains to be said,
in a, of a, for a, with a, for a, of a, in a
field of asphodel their mothers
hear from the dark room’s open door
in the middle of the night.
Or just one child. Just his mother.
Just that bedroom an earthquake
could destroy, or a fire burn, just
that room where, behind closed
eyes, the fire burns, the earth shakes,
and not a book falls off the shelf,
and not a page is aflame, though
in the air the scent is singe
of the moon on fire once again.
In a cave a goddess in echoes
sobs at her son’s fate as her son
walks into the ocean to wash
the blood from his wrath. Imagine
in dactyls what the hand can do
it still can do and does worse
than imagining can fathom.
It can be gentle, too. The mind
couldn’t become pyrrhic,
much to my sorrow, much to my
delight. The horse galloping
now in green trochees across the field
also beds down in a meadow
unseen, its haunch flinching in dream.
Quickened at external relations
the heart has its spondees that slow
blood down into thought, slow
into memory so vivid it feels as you
draw hand to chest your heart
might stop beating. But it’s just an idea
of death. Not death itself. Not
that drone inside silence so different
than chaos, like the blue-shift
of quasars inching backward through
time, like the sun in bronze
on an ancient ring, or a bee hanging
golden on a hook within the ash
within the urn. The pollen won’t
quit gathering inside the poem.
Subject to what does not exist
my teacher told me to submit.
The mind-wings hum in tune, in time.
Mother, all I want is honey in a hive.
Copyright © 2018 Dan Beachy-Quick. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Winter 2018.