All things counter, original, spare and strange in Khujand, Tajikistan

Sonnets: Loss=Transformation

I

In Praise of Forgetfulness

A patterned absence: shadow leaves on snow,

A strain of music on the wind, a wisp

Of something in my mouth. The subtle gifts

Are given in his place, and somehow known

As traces, tracks left by the animal,

Who, great as men are great, would naturally

Impress himself on his surroundings, we

Reason, not willing to admit that all

The tears aside, a door will be a door

Without his heavy knock, a book will be

A book without his voice. The way we see

Him missing in the kitchen’s dirty floor

Persists, as dirt persists, but then again

Did not the dirt itself once pass—to man?

II

The Birdmen Lose Their Wings

It was difficult at first without the wings,

The feeling was all off, the balance wrong

As if we’d lost the tunes to all our songs

But something still impelled us all to sing.

We leapt off cliffs and balconies and dropped

Like stones in water through our native air,

Then higher, higher climbed, high as we dared,

Till even the most desperate had to stop.

We walked for several days on bloody feet,

Like animals, all shackled to the earth

Back packed with all the others lame from birth.

Till drawn by some starred piper to the sea,

We dreaming limped through dark awaiting night

And plunged into the cool, deep, secret flight.

III

After the Ascension

Angel: Why stand you staring after him?

He’s gone but he will soon return again,

And you will drown in floods of glory when

He rends the earth’s thin veil, but do not swim,

Inhale. Yet while you breathe stale air, I say:

Do not forget what wonder round about

Enshrines your dry dust path. Soon you will doubt,

It will be long, you will not know the way

But do not be so foolish as to think

That dust is dust, and not the stuff God’s hands

Made into you, that man is only man,

And not the image of the great unseen.

So now go forth, shake temples, shudder kings.

Go forth! Your world must shatter ere it sings.

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