Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Silence Raving

Patters, paters, Apollo globes, sound 
breaking up with silence, coals 
I can still hear, entanglement of sense pools, 
the way a cave might leak perfume--

in the Cro-Magnons went, along its wet hide walls, 
as if a flower in, way in, drew their leggy 
panspermatic bodies, spidering over 
bottomless hunches, groping toward Persephone's fate:
to be quicksanded by the fungus pulp of Hades' purple hair 
  exploding in their brains.

They poured their foreheads into the coals and corrals 
zigzagged about in the night air--
        the animals led in crossed 
a massive vulva incised before the gate,
the power that came up from it was paradise, the power 
the Cro-Magnons bequeathed to us:
to make an altar of our throats.

The first words were mixed with animal fat, 
wounded men tried to say who did it.
The group was the rim of a to-be-invented wheel, 
their speech was spokes, looping over, 
around, the hub of the fire, its silk of us, 
its burn of them, bop we dip, you dip, 
we dip to you, you will dip to us, Dionysus 
the plopping, pooling words, stirred
by the lyre gaps between the peaks of flame, 
water to fire, us to them.

Foal-eyes, rubbery, they looped
back into those caves whose walls could be strung
between their teeth, the sticky soul material pulled to
The sides by their hands, ooh
what bone looms they sewed themselves into, ah 
what tiny male spiders they were
on the enormous capable of devouring them 
female rock elastic word!

Credit


From Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination and the Construction of the Underworld, as yet unpublished. Copyright © 2000 by Clayton Eshleman. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Author


Clayton Eshleman

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1935, Clayton Eshleman is the author of many collections of poetry and translation

Date Published: 2000-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/silence-raving