DANIEL GUSTAFSSON has published volumes of poetry in English and Swedish, most recently Fordings (Marble Poetry, 2020). New work appears in Ekstasis, The York Journal, Fare Forward, Amethyst Review and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in Temenos Academy Review. Daniel lives in York. Twitter: @PoetGustafsson
The faults accrue. Our first,
and least original of sins, is this:
a lapse into analysis,
dissecting forms of life,
divesting blazing trees of flame
and foliage. This knife
is how and what we know.
Forgetting light, we call the shadows true,
observing things at one or two
removes. This heresy
of paraphrase pervading all
we do, we fail to be
fully attuned. Around
us now, the ground displays the marks of war,
the martyrdom of metaphor
beneath our tongues of clay.
The muted boughs are stripped of plumes;
their song, explained away,
is nowhere heard. We’re left
with this: the canopy’s collapsing nave
dispersed in piles of broken staves
beneath a squandered sun;
a mutilated multiverse,
a kingdom come undone.
Just here, the latest de-
construction site is raised, a treeless grove
of girders, glass and glitz, a trove
Here settlement is sacrificed
for appetite, to please,
for now at least, our all-
consuming selves. Its glaring voids respond
to vacant eyes alone. Beyond
this light-polluting stuff
and all the false advertisements
the dark is real enough.
Here, then, the surface trail
goes cold. We live the afterglow of him
who led the way; his glory dimmed,
his golden hoard inhumed
in trite idolatries, we seek
it now in catacombs
between the lines, beneath
what occupies this disenchanted space:
the omnipresent marketplace,
its palaces of prose.
We’ve no abiding city here,
this much the poet knows.
I saw. A single form
dissevered. Shorn and scattered leaf from limb,
the storms had racked and shaken him
until our street was strewn
with guttered gold. With any blade
available, we hewed
with glee, not grasping yet
the harm our hands could wield. I saw that bole
of alabaster fall: his whole-
ness halved then halved again,
the skywards reach, the widening
cut short across the grain.
We stacked the stumps on high.
Soon fire crept along the bed of straw
then, smarting, licked its leering jaws
and set to work. It seared
my sockets then, to see the blacks
amass, the bark his bier
assailed by plumes of smoke.
Even now, signs of something breaking clean
from marbled boughs, though freshest green,
can sting unguarded eyes
with memories of sulphurous
and sepia-tinted skies.
Daniel Gustafsson has published volumes of poetry in English and Swedish, most recently Fordings (Marble Poetry, 2020). New work appears in Ekstasis, The York Journal, Fare Forward, Amethyst Review and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in Temenos Academy Review. Daniel lives in York. Twitter: @PoetGustafsson