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The Green Muse

John B. Lee

The Charolais cows were licking the sky
from the field of France
for want of salt
in God's left ear
where he pressed heaven
with his bountiful blue mind

and whenever I saw them I said
'come to me, my lovelies"
and they turned their big white faces
to the fence, came heifering over
to watch my movement
while one true moth
fluttered up and out of my hand
hovering above my open palm
like the amazed eyelash of child
with faith in miracles
before lost chivalry first fell to flowers

and I believe as well
in the purposeful perfection
of prayer
as I believe in the coming again
of tomorrow's dew-blessed dawn

and only the next day
in Paris
I walked under
the window
that sheltered the small room
where the French poet Verlaine
passed into paradise
those many years ago
like the last wormwood hallucination
of a painting vanishing in rain
what it is
that blinks to black
this dark acid splash of dying
the night of the night
when evening isn't there
the hollow O of a waterless well
the dry-tongued words that taste of stone

and the same day
I saw the oldest tree in Paris
the false acacia
leaning into pillars
and chinked by cement
but still living
still lingering
where the very road
once carried commerce
through Leon and on to ancient Rome

and also I saw the statue of Napoleon
coppering up on the obelisk
built from ten thousand captured cannon
melted down to make that slender plinth
and also
the spire of Egypt
graying into empire
since before became before
when time was first inventing itself
in the books and stories
of the self-considering
mind of man

and which of these greens
will I choose

the poisonous green
of Verlaine's absinthe
the penny-green of the crown
of the Corsican runt
that laurelled his corporal skull with a copper thought
or the leaf-green life
of the oldest tree
that stood dropping its shade
in the square
by the church

or the pasturing
ruminant green
of the daily hunger of cows

I am writing
of cud, as if of this bolus
of the third result

the supper of supper

I cannot dream
without eating
the dreaming of

John B. Lee's works copyright © to the author.

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