K. E. Duffin



The wind keeps trying to say something urgent
with its tongue cut out, mumbling about dead horses
and denuded peninsulas, seawater gurgling in
from the Gulf, snaking ahead of inhuman forces.

Washed away. Sun-charred silhouettes.

Maples dappled with yellow violently bow
to their dictator, shaking their manes beneath
an intense blue cobwebbed with cirrus. How
a few molecules of panic were wafted northeast

by these gusts is anyone's guess, a fetid scent
so slight in the manic freshness of early fall.
Remnants of the hurricane, racing, spent,
a rash of storybook whooshes, a dry squall.

Gone. As if it hasn't happened yet.
I feel my cheek on a bloated, chestnut flank
floating in warm Lethean currents, an ark
nowhere to be seen, only the mayhem of a rank
shore ahead, impalings in the dark.


Through clouds of dust from the latest conquering army
I watch the one who knew me best, her eyes
Egyptian blue with a drop of midnight, rise
among terraced hills, headed for raven mercy,

a pearl of art formed in an oyster of darkness,
seething within, all the nacreous plots:
jealousies, poisonings, betrayals, the hideous chess
of history books and novels, tangled knots

scholars love to unravel. Her mind is riven.
At a Palatine temple, an elderly pontifex
makes a sign, and her brain is whole: ganglion
and cerebellum finally linked with cortex.

To a tinny flattened blare of triumph, as oars
of triremes flash on the Tiber and wavelets foam,
a white dove explodes from its cage and soars.
Smiling, we walk arm in arm through Rome.