Bringing in Frost's Morgan
My brain is folded in my skull.
The universe is filed there.
Frost's little Morgan colt is there,
shut out of its barn,
terrified forever in the dark and the bitter snow,
and no one ever comes to take him in.
Damn Frost for leaving him there, alone like that,
wild-eyed, wild-whickering, frozen in meticulous verse,
instead of adding the lines about going to the door of the house and saying,
as he must have said,
all in prose:
"Come get your Morgan colt, you lazy bastard!
Come bring the little one in, out of the winter night --
or I'll shoot him myself, for pity, where he stands!"
And the two men going out, all in a bluster,
and taking the Morgan to the mare, the milk, and the straw.
The mountains are there, out on the desert floor.
The mountains out on the desert floor are flying away.
I duck my head as they roar up over the windshield,
with one thunderclap after another, into the sky,
folded planes of blue flying away in formation,
wheeling toward my angels,
plunging in stone laughter back down to the salt pans.
They are unaware that the air can't bear their weight;
they are indifferent to such principles, and to perspective.
Perceiving themselves only as sheets of bright blue light,
they fly anyway; they do not concern themselves;
only their meticulous courtesy keeps them coming back.
Out on the desert floor, the stone mountains
are flying away in formation, doing touch-and-gos.
The profile of the Ethiopian woman is there,
forever straining at the outermost border of weariness,
Who put one child on her back and gave the other her powerful hand.
Who walked for fourteen days to bring them to this place,
her back and her hand going on, bringing the children in,
out of the terrible light and the bitter sun.
She kneels as a camel kneels, descending in sections
onto the bare wooden floor of the station.
She sets the children aside with back and hand.
She lays her face down forever on the polished boards.
And the british voice gives over at last to let us hear
her rough breath, doing come-and-gos;
the children hunker against the wall to watch her die.
Itís quickly done. They never take their eyes from her.
There is nothing the children can do to keep her close,
that her love has not done already. And still she failed,
for lack of the milk and the straw, for lack of the mare.
And no one ever comes to take her in.
Sonnets are there in lines, small pockets of perception,
alike on the outside, pecular inside to themselves,
waiting for me to come and take them out.
Anywhere sonnets hunker, back to back,
the landscape will have a more orderly construction;
a sonnet is sufficient unto its self and good in the mouth.
To bring a sonnet to birth every line must be known
before any other line ever can be known, and vice versa;
to bring a sonnet to birth, you set that aside.
Refusing to know that sonnets are by their nature impossible,
this poet, out on the polished floor, is flying away,
sonneting anyway. Each line a thunderclap,
bringing in the woman and the Morgan,
to the warm mare and the warm milk and the warm straw.
We humans cannot ever truly know,
as we perceive the softly falling snow,
and all agree that snow is white and cold,
if we are only doing what weíre told...
because the child learns at its motherís knee
how human tribes have ruled that snow shall be.
And if a child should say snowís green, and hot,
a mother will say sharply, "No! Itís not!
Defiance is the foulest childhood sin --
and no one, afterward, will take you in."
And do you then pretend you hear and see...
pretend that you perceive the same as me?
Our mothers warned us all. "Child! You take care!
You mind now! Those bright angels are not there!"
My angels are there. I am always aware of the angels.
They have nothing to do with that simpering blond in feathers,
that spiritual salt pan, that exhausted dimpled image,
that scalloped narrow dumpling forever doing hark-and-los.
Angels are round as the world, they are great and whirling.
Their rays go out to the end of all things and come right back,
as if it were nothing. They sing songs that are thunderclaps.
They sing songs that are lightningbolts.
They take my breath clear away, they bring me in;
they carry me up to the highest sky with a roar;
they set me gently down below their splendor.
Attic of infinite cabinets,
flung up and peaked,
above the house of my body,
wrapped in meat and in lightning,
I carry you and the universe about.
Across the way, people are walking to-and-fro;
their brains are folded in their skulls,
universes are filed there.
For all I know, they are more alien than the moon,
arranging their furniture up in the spacious mind.
Wait! I come bearing packages and bundles!
Wait -- for I am coming back for you.
I am coming down like a thunderclap, to take you in.
To the sturdy mare,
and the abundant milk,
and the tangled straw.
Copyright © 2002 by Suzette Haden Elgin