“I would have gone back,” the voice full of shells, gravel, liquid washing stones, back meaning lost island or calendar, a thing rigged with bones unbending, unfolding past the hard symmetry of clocks, vertebrae of thought moving now in real time, home a word hollow as the bone of birds—tody, cling cling, gaulin, euphonia—“That dream was over.” Such oneiric geometry, “The Blue Room” built by Miles, his horn a grail from which you sup the saudade of marine might-have-been never-will-be, embouchure unthought, no better than Vidia for leaving. So we leave, skein of shadows, silent psalms for how our scourge was beauty, home; brightboys fleeing the estate for another on that other island, jolted by the freight of shame. Mas Hall, thanks for the company on the volte-face voyage, stingy-brim on which we sailed, migration of monarch butterflies. Landfall at Port of Avonmouth in a scene from Hardy, landfall at Tilbury Dock to step off the caravel in white gloves, stout ties, leave to remain vagrant. Lonely Oxonians together, oak hatch of the Bod we’d shade, then off to All Souls to cram for mods, toiling in Codrington we leaf through Thistlewood. And so we are marked. Is it Marx or Douglass with that beard? Bound to become Judas-Brutus, blood diamonds paid us in arrears to try the line of Hopkins, Auden, Eliot, Donne. Evensong at New Chapel to ease the medieval weight of failure in the refrain of white robes, one brown seraph alone: “O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.” ’Gainst the towers most colored I feel, dear Stuart, in these duds, our hide, sub fusc aeternum. You grasp browning leaflets on the stump; O betraying beauty of brown: bankra, Barbancourt, Venetian ducats, dhalpuri, khaki, Gauguin. Remember the strange fog a night on Broad St. as if below Friedrich’s Wanderer? But, as you taught, who more Wanderer than we, the evicted on the victor’s turf, playing the past, loss a force centripetal? All praise to your mind a sextant, darklit as Diwali. You bless our kin severance. How I wish to forget your sister strapped to the sugar mill, charged with spoiling the color scheme: sedition. Ah, compay, even leaves of the croton sprout from our eyes. There is no going back. Thinking translucence you say, “Bend the stick,” different than Lenin or United Fruit. The rank of Bombay mangoes exceeds all migrations. The lignum vitae insists on itself. Navel string toughens to twine with the rhizome, portal in the ground.
—with Kara Springer’s “Repositioned Objects, I,” primer on wood.