You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously To This World
Tell the truth I told me When I couldn’t speak.
Sorrow’s a barbaric art, crude as a Viking ship Or a child
Who rode a spotted pony to the lake away from summer
In the 1930s Toward the iron lung of polio.
According to the census I am unmarried And unchurched.
The woman in the field dressed only in the sun.
Too far gone to halt the Arctic Cap’s catastrophe, big beautiful
Blubbery white bears each clinging to his one last hunk of ice.
I am obliged, now, to refrain from dying, for as long as it is possible.
For whom left am I first?
We have come to terms with our Self
Like a marmoset getting out of her Great Ape suit.
Don’t do that when you’re dead like this, I said,
Arguably still squabbling about the word inarguably.
I haunt Versailles, poring through the markets of the medieval.
Mostly meat to be sold there. Mutton hangs
Like laundry pinkened on its line.
And gold! —a chalice with a cure for living in it.
We step over the skirt of an Elizabeth.
Red grapes, a delicacy, each peeled for us—each sheath
The vestment of a miniature priest, disrobed.
A sister is an Old World sparrow placed in a satin shoe.
The weakling’s saddle is worn down from just too much sad attitude.
No one wants to face the “opaque reality” of herself.
For the life of me.
I was made American. You must consider this.
Whatever suffering is insufferable is punishable by perishable.
In Vienne, the rabbit Maurice is at home in the family cage.
I ache for him, his boredom and his solitude.
On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.
I miss your heart, my heart.
For A Snow Leopard in October
Stay, little ounce, here in
Fleece and leaf with me, in the evermore
Where swans trembled in the lake around our bed of hay and morning
Came each morning like a felt cloak billowing
Across the most pale day. It was the color of a steeple disappearing
In an old Venetian sky. Or of a saint tamping the grenadine
Of his heavy robes before the Blessing of the Animals.
I’ve heard tell of men who brought Great Pyrenees, a borzoi, or
Some pocket mice, baskets of mourning doves beneath their wicker lids,
A chameleon on a leash from the Prussian circuses,
And from the farthest Caucasus, some tundra wolves in pairs.
In a meadow I had fallen
As deep in sleep as a trilobite in the red clay of the centuries.
Even now, just down our winding road, I can hear the children blanketing
Themselves to sleep in leaves from maple trees.
No bad dreams will come to them I know
Because once, in the gone-ago, I was a lynx as well, safe as a tiger-iris
In its silt on the banks of the Euphrates, as you were. Would they take
You now from me, like Leonardo’s sleeve disappearing in
The air. And when I woke I could not wake
You, little sphinx, I could not keep you here with me. Anywhere, I could not bear to let you go. Stay here
In our clouded bed of wind and timothy with me.
Lie here with me in snow.
Excerpted from Stay, Illusion by Lucie Brock-Broido. Copyright © 2013 by Lucie Brock-Broido. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.