Flight: new and selected poems: Linda Bierds. My thanks as well to The Rockefeller Foundation for a month-long residency in Bellagio, Italy, during which much of this book was shaped, and to the editors of journals in which a number of new poems first appeared:. She was taken, by custom, to the small slate lip of a mountain. Legs bound at the knees she was left facing west, thick with her still child. It is winter, just after midday.
Slowly, shudder by civilized shudder, a train slips over the mountain, reveals to its weary riders.
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They straighten, place their lips to the glass, and there, far below, this delicate, bleached pattern, like the spokes of a bamboo cage. And so there are stories.
A little stratum under the toenails. A train descends from a mountain, levels out, circles a field where a team of actors mimics a picnic. The billowing children.
On the table, fruit, a great calabash of chilled fish. And over it all, a beloved uncle, long mad, sits in the crotch of an oak tree. He smiles as the blare seeps over the actors, the pasture, the village. Six men on their knees chirruping, laughing, snow lifting in puffs from the spotlights. In an ecstasy of color the peacock dips, revolves to the slow train: each rider pressed to a window, each round face courted in turn.
Before the mirror, water gave it back, the brown surface of another's eye. It is High South Africa, Rabbles of sailors press down the Zambezi.
Clear night. The first creep in from the bushwood, sifting. This is my face, one whispers. A flush like a thud in the brain.
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This is my face, unrippled. Its pockets and stains. A tide sumerges and sounds on colors cluster like grapes.
Breath speeds onwards, splendidly, in its diligent flight. At a standstill, lingering behind, the origin of the silent light was slow, and, if I withhold, on a finger, your movement restored to life and visible inside a circle of motionless splendor, so also do I withhold my breath on the vain awakened surface left to me.
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The shapeless dead are listening. Clouds stretch out here and there, having invaded breath's vast impetuous flight around the remote arching trembling horizon. Nastri lisci erano di uccelli e un'orchidea nera fra i baci vespertini, ora, s'aggrotta. Sleek ribbons from birds and a black orchid among the twilight kisses is now holing up in a frown.
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You and your dark swollen hair and, thereby, over this vast oasis, a fugitive over the waters in a reverberation of roses Tu eri distesa come una pietra di onda in onda e da te l'aura divise la luna da l'alba quieta. You were lying like a stone from wave to wave and from you the aura divided the moon from the quiet dawn. Forse mutata in un abbraccio deserta va piangendo la terra Perhaps changed into an embrace the deserted earth goes off weeping Top of page.
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