Jerome Rothenberg

1931 / New York City, New York

Lorca Variation 34 A Book of Hours

3:00 P.M.

The green man, more a man
than most, took a scissors,
cut the sky with it,
let a river loose
till it became
a sea, the way that yellow
turns to gold,
his scissors tore its blue
apart, his lips
grown pale with dust,
the branches broke
& from the west a man rode up,
who saw the west in ruins,
Pan sat with a zither
heaping sadness upon sadness
earth upon air
until the sun itself was lost,
the air as murky
as the soul of man
he bathes in it
he sits inside
a molten pool
a catherine wheel spins overhead
a hundred pinwheels
6:00 P.M.

They set the snake loose
where the weathercocks
were twisting slowly
day was settling on the fountain
sunset dropping from
their beaks we drove our boat
around while evening
let its tail fall
& the half moon hunkered down
would turn forever blue among
its blue birds
7:00 P.M.

Venus waits in front of you
& trembles will tomorrow
ever come, she thinks
& everything be like it was
inside the well
or will the stars be there
reflected,
shivering
she like a girl will be
the first to raise it
8:00 P.M.

What a sweetheart he has,
who is wrapped in her blindfold,
can't see him,
not for all her one thousand eyes
like a dragon's or tongues
as loud as the wind's
she will lose him at last
in a crowd
even though she stares down from her sky
a shivering Venus
9:00 P.M.

In sight of the river,
a river that looks like
brushed velvet an island
shaped like a heart
but bloodless
the breeze that skims over
is soft as a kiss
where a cistern lies open
ready to swallow the sky,
an olive grove vanishes
vanishes words
cover everything
pass them along to your lady
make sure the color is blue
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