W. F. Lantry



Pot hooks, cow dung, black chimney bricks whose worth
I have not skill to honor in my art.
                                              —Hecht, after Du Bellay

Venetian plaster, tablecloths, a long
cured string of sage, or something, I can't tell
it's wrapped in dyed provincial cloth. Sharp knives
a room all done in blue and gold, with white
above us as we dine. Vased peacock plumes:
these are the things she's brought into my life

or caused appearances. Gold peonies
a book of ivory jade, with poems carved
on each smooth page, well worn by fingers from
another continent, another time.
Etched roses done in luaun, green and red
and lilies raised up from Tibetan wood.

Or songs, Ivushka in a quiet room
lost Anachie, almost her every phrase
an unknown melody, it's not just sound
not just the way her face curves this new light
her progress crossing granite squares reminds
of what I can't remember, centuries

have passed since then. I know. Almost believe
with me. It is her gift. If you could know
her transformations, Proteus would seem
no myth, and if you felt the gathered wind
that stirs about her when she moves, then you
would come to doubt all knowledge of this earth.