Wednesday, June 22, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Rosanne Carrara

for landlocked, a limitless expansion –
this brace of camouflage rigged up
as my own sterling contribution
to the national effort – the leaf-blood,
fabric revisos of a camp along the front –
I’ll take especial credit for the deities
hovering along the upper corners
of each screen – the squat, god’s-honest
likeness of a Moai, moss-headed, concrete.
He gets his rise grinning over the tall
fires, the scorched whole loaves of birds’
nests, all the abandoned knitting. And,
relishing the nearest internal struggle –
the long-expected row between a rampant
lion and a trinity of left hooks, supported,
well enough, respectively, by the only
obedient muscle in a person’s body, the tip
of an icicle, or a sleuth of leaden pyramids
couched between wrist and elbow – this idol,
he’ll say the lion’s casual, knows enough
to know they would have killed him
by now if they weren’t just practicing.

Then, the left-hand trace of that other god.
He’s mean, no, economical, about his face,
cocking and re-cocking his bird mask
to get it low enough to set some formal
distance between himself and any of our
earthy disappointments, as if the postponement
of hope, epitomized by a sudden flare-up
in one of the abandoned tents, was not
the source of jubilation he had longed for
all along. Still, still, he finds the human
predicament alluring. The long waltz-shadow
of the critic, sailing in a helmet and feathers,
swilling from a horn, swearing to his partner,
make the best of my farewells – although, to think
of it, his shadow never makes a faithful exit.
Or the critic, himself, squatting, clement
in the center of things, bent over his weather
map or the flag of no country he’s ever known –
Armenia, maybe – spinning a piece of chalk
so swiftly in his hand it blurs into a shield.
This god’s at least a little bit concerned. ’Suppose
he thinks this might just be the chalk I gave
to him, the critic, in my moment of triumph,
when I told him to produce some kind of master-
piece himself, urging him to work fast, too,
if he would be so kind – I’d need it back sooner
or later, so as to mount the box I took to standing
on and scratch a similarly strained goodbye
my loveds on its wooden sides, before I kicked
the box from under all of us, that is, and died.