(For Boy, Baby, Jack, Henry)
“Angelus Domini nuntievit Mariae.”
Where does blood begin? The ark of love has perished
in the glaciers, spiders crawled the alarum of coming:
Sleep, O dark & gentle warriors, in the heart of light—
Waking, instruct us, latecomers, on quicksands, tides.
Define the sacrament of their act: these sacred vessels
that in madness must denounce religion of false bonds—
The weather of sorrow, Madonnas, that dutifully screamed
the history of cripples: seek barbarians when we arrive!
Flood of fingers & earth spinning, cannonade of falcons
in the pith of air. Dogs howled, a flight of herons
in the river sang the glare of galaxies in opened throats.
The manner of your leaving O perhaps you most bewailed!
But however strong the current of blood, the fall of deeds,
you, in the knell of monsoons, received our filial beads.
From Personal, Impersonal, 1975