Robert McLean

Postscript to The Death of Virgil


    I capitulate to silence:
           an orectic
pause in the prescient hush, peacefulness
    poised above the brink of caustic
        seas ('steel-blue and light'),
               to bless
    a house empty of circumstance,
especially school-age children, wherein night
           and day mingle
    into electric now, and all

    that has been has passed beyond my
           ear-splitting life,
is resurrected beneath the callous
    sun of Brundisium, mid-wife
        to Empire and Shoah,
               the place
    where the poet Virgil will die
at the hand of Hermann Broch below a
           firmament of
    adjectives, quickened by his love

    of words, as fleets of thoughts patrol
           my mind, Cosmos
and no-thing intertwined, just as dying
    circles and turns, just as Logos
        is not yet close to hand:
               you sing
    one last time of the Dichter's soul,
of WATER, FIRE, EARTH and AIR; we withstand
           His Word, and each
    of us is silenced beyond speech,

    speechless in the lamp-lit cloister
           of my lounge, worlds
beyond technique and slaughter, as I turn
    my eyes from the phosphoric words
        that have kept me from sleep,
               that burn
    dry my retinas, I hear her
voice from the bedroom, a promise I keep
           despite the facts –
    The Death of Virgil and syntax.