A Swallow in the Garden of St Joseph’s
Who knows what lies in the pit of it?
Gaunt fossil of itself, dull eye. Consider only the slip of distances,
greys fading to blankness, (Space has no soul, you mutter.)
the perspectives, folding unfolding folding etc.
A dark obsession, (still you) not quite deep enough
to drown in. Your thoughts pall…The little
lead soldiers hobble past from some ancient war.
They seem to be looking for a home in back alleys.
A tattered platoon sniffs out your lair.
You look up at them looking down in…
Out of a fold—a cleft silhouette (This is your cue.)
drifting through ruins of late afternoon.
You follow in the wake of the drift. Your image blurs to a stain.
The stain sets on the horizon. It’s there, still there…
then, hallelujah, it’s gone.
It’s maybe in a dream.
Ask the man holding the gun,
or place your palms on the floor.
They know how to listen.
The earth is my witness, you blurt.
Children sense the tension. The shaft
runs deep. A canary is chirpless,
and this is only the beginning.
The lady in spelter holding the lyre
is not looking this way.
Lovely lady, lady of grace.
Still, I feel her gaze.
One day they’ll melt you down.
The Devil’s in this! they’ll say.
What runs through the stray dog’s howl,
those boneless words adrift? Go north
to lovely Lesbos, to Samos or Kos!
Ruin’s no longer at bay. The risk remains
in the blood pulse. Hold your ear to your wrist.
Listen to the Aegean at midnight,
a black and moonless water
promising to pull you away.
Scott Elder studied at the American University in Paris and the University of Puget Sound. He lived as street musician in Paris and London, then worked as a mime in France and Portugal before spending twelve years in a Buddhist hermitage in France. He now lives in Auvergne with his family. His poems have appeared in Ecumes, Poetry Cornwall, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg, Cyphers, Nimrod International, The Antigonish Review, The French Literary Review, Crannog Magazine. and will be appearing in the forthcoming issues of Big Muddy, Quiddity International Journal, Acta Victoriana, Dream Catcher, and Cake. His pamphlet ‘Breaking Away’ is published by Poetry Salzburg.