Archaic Fragments



Water takes you in.
For days the gods talk
Of nothing but your

Spine in the dark, white
Coral, of how fish
School into your dead

Calm. And still water
Gives you back: thirsting,
Already bent to drink.




After he told her
How he’d built their house around
That tree, after he

Described the dovetailed
Masonry, bole cut off right
At the root, leaving

One leafy branch as
Bedpost, after he reminded
Her he’d planed the wood


Till it curved, smooth as
Her hips, after he told her
How he’d laid in

Gold, silver, and strips
Of ivory pale as her
Skin, woven supple

Leather over its
Frame, oxhide gleaming red as
First blood — (that deerhound

I said

Pinning a weak-kneed
Fawn) and what one might call
First-blooded — given her

The sema, sign, their own
Life story, he asked, “Is my
Bed still there, or

Has another uprooted
That olive tree?” As she had
By now living proof,

Yes I will

She knew him again
And again, as the olive
Tree that’s their rooted

Bed flowers fullest
In this, its second decade
As they delight in

Each other, as their
Sturdy bed blossoms in its
Continued cycle.