September 17, 2018

Joseph Fasano

HYMN

Nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus
—Livy

We are like strangers in the wild places. We watch
the deer swinging the intricate velvet from its antlers, never knowing
we are only as immense as what we shed in the dance.

The bride and bridegroom stand at the altar. Each thing
learned in mercy has a river in it. It holds the cargo
of a thousand crafts of fire that went down at evening.

We can neither endure our misfortunes nor face
the remedies needed to cure them. The fawns move
through the forest, and we move through the ruins of the dance.

Like Job, the mourner lays his head on the cold oak
of the table. His heart is a hundred calla lilies
under the muck of the river, opening before evening.

We think there is another shore. We stand with the new life
like a mooring rope across our shoulders, never guessing
that the staying is the freightage of the dance.

Orpheus turned to see his Eurydice gone. The Furies tore him
into pieces. The sun, he said, I will worship the sun.
But something in his ruin cried out for evening, evening, evening.

The wrens build at dusk. Friends, I love their moss-dressed
nests twisting in the pitch of the rafters, for they have taught me
that the ruins of the dance are the dance.

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018

__________

Joseph Fasano: “This poem was written in response to Robert Bly’s experiments with the Arabic ghazal form. I gave myself two laws: the odd-numbered stanzas must end with the word ‘dance,’ the even-numbered stanzas with ‘evening’; and the final stanza must include a direct address. The other laws, as always, refuse to tell me what they are.” (web)

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