In the Museum:

Sketches from the Antique


Sarcophagus with Four Seasons

No, it has nothing to do with Nature,

although one suave leg kisses another;

arms embrace the fruits of the earth;

waist and hip slide back into bliss.

Do quiet eyes remember?

Within the unlit space

all is swept clear;

antique pride

dismisses disgrace.

Lines descend,

vertical to horizontal;

twelve cuts make the year.

Each plane slides into place:

five; and six; a fitted bevel

leaves no room for fear.

I am astonished

when looking inside;

how little I remember;

as if you had never died.

Urn Burial

You wished to be allowed

to return to dust –

balked over and over again,

against the insistent wheel;

crying in red and black;

amid flame, enclosure,

and the searing branch.

But she, with terrible eyes, refused,

extending her arm around

your body, making it stand

forever, or approximately:

full of grief, ash, the bony splinters

of your friend.

Augury at Antioch, AD 299

The landscape is imaginary, littered

with weeping giants, snake-coiled stairs,

the athletic arms of goddesses twisting,

knotting their smoky veils, enraged.

Cattle shift in and out of black pillared

shade, indolent eyes and oozing nostrils

insufficiently aware of the knife.

In the end, liver and heart, abashed

intestines, forgot. Inert, uninscribed, they slid

to voiceless hysteria beneath the ornate grief

of arches realizing their symmetry.

The emperor, in jeweled slippers,

uncovered his head;