30 in 30, day twenty-five

sept 2017 30-30This exercise I’m calling linear derangement, in which I reverse line order rather than word order. The source is “A Procession at Candlemas,” by Amy Clampitt. (You can view the source poem at https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~cavitch/pdf-library/Clampitt_ProcessionAtCandlemas.pdf.)


In the rest-in-peace of the placental coracle,
not merely of the ego, you rediscover, almost,

sometimes wrapped like a papoose into a grief
beyond the torn integument of childbirth,

a stillness at the heart of so much whirling:
amok among the magnolias’ pregnant wands,

remorseless corpuscles, street gangs
in falling snow, a whirl of tenderness

for one straggling up Pennsylvania Avenue.
Intoning, a drum becomes the metronome:

the monk in sheepskin over tucked-up saffron
can assign a trade-in value to that sorrow

like caribou, perhaps camped here. Whose
names they went by, stumbling past

in losing everything they had, is lost even
in transhumance, once a people

of Indian Meadows. The westward-trekking
nowhere oasis wears the place name

absently, without inhabitants, this
the pristine seductiveness of money

niched into the washroom wall case.
Lip rouge, mirrors, and emollients embody

perfect, like miracles. Comb, nail clippers
in parcel gilt, plop from their housing

gumball globes, life savers cincture
cream-capped in the cafeteria showcase.

What’s fabricated? The jellies glitter
beside them, drinking what is real except

fuel pumps, the bison hulk slantwise
of freezing dark, through a Stonehenge

or clamber down, numb-footed, half in a drowse
about the self’s imponderable substance.

The sleepers groan, stir, wrap themselves
something precious, ripped: Where are we

within layers, at the core a dream of
lapped, wheelborne integument, each layer

necessary and intractable as dreaming,
fragile as ego, frightening as parturition?


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