4. "Plants Fed On by Fawns" All the flowers: the pleated leaves of the hellebore; And the false blossom of the calla, a leaf like a petal— The white flesh of a woman bathing— a leaf over- Shadowing the small flowers hidden in the spadix; And fly poison, tender little flower, whose cursed root Pounded into a fine white powder will destroy flies. But why kill flies? They do not trouble me. They Are like the fruit the birds feed on. They are like The wind in the trees, or the sap that threads all things, The blue blood moving through branch and vine, Through the wings of dead things and living things.... If I lift my hand? If I write to you? The letters Can be stored in a box. Can they constitute the shape Of a love? Can the paper be ground? Can the box Be altar and garden plot and bed? Can there rise From the bed the form of a two-headed creature, A figure that looks both forward and back, keeping Watch always, one head sleeping while the other wakes, The bird head sleeping while the lion head wakes, And then the changing of the guard?.... No, The flies do not trouble me. They are like the stars At night. Common and beautiful. They are like My thoughts. I stood at midnight in the orchard. There were so many stars, and yet the stars, The very blackness of the night, though perfectly Cold and clear, seemed to me to be insubstantial, The whole veil of things seemed less substantial Than the thing that moved in the dark behind me, An unseen bird or beast, something shifting in its sleep, Half-singing and then forgetting it was singing: Be thou always ravished by love, starlight running Down and pulling back the veil of the heart, And then the water that does not exist opening up Before one, dark as wine, and the unveiled figure Of the self stepping unclothed, sweetly stripped Of its leaf, into starlight and the shadow of night, The cold water warm around the narrow ankles, The body at its most weightless, a thing so durable It will— like the carved stone figures holding up The temple roof— stand and remember its gods Long after those gods have been forsaken."
- Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard
5. "Elegy" Wind buffs the waterstained stone cupids and shakes Old rain from the pines’ low branches, small change Spilling over the graves the years have smashed With a hammer— forget this, forget that, leave no Stone unturned. The grass grows high, sweet-smelling, Many-footed, ever-running. No one tends it. No One comes....And where am I now?.... Is this a beginning, A middle, or an end?.... Before I knew you I stood middle, or an end?.... Before I knew you I stood In this place. Now I forsake the past as I knew it To feed you into it. But that is not right. You step Into it. I find you here, in the shifting grass, In the late light, as if you had always been here. Behind you two torn black cedars flame white Against the darkening fields.... If you turn to me, Quiet man? If you turn? If I speak softly? If I say, Take off, take off your glasses.... Let me see Your sightless eyes?.... I will be beautiful then.... Look, the heart moves as the moths do, scuttering Like a child’s thoughts above this broken stone And that. And I lie down. I lie down in the long grass, Something I am not given to doing, and I feel The weight of your hand on my belly, and the wind Parts the grasses, and the distance spills through— The glassy fields, the black black earth, the pale air Streaming headlong toward the abbey’s far stones And streaming back again.... The drowned scent of lilacs By the abbey, it is a drug. It drives one senseless. It drives one blind. You can cup the enormous lilac cones In your hands— ripened, weightless, and taut— And it is like holding someone’s heart in your hands, Or holding a cloud of moths. I lift them up, my hands. Grave man, bend toward me. Lay your face.... here.... Rest....! took the stalks of the dead wisteria From the glass jar propped against the open grave And put in the shell-shaped yellow wildflowers I picked along the road. I cannot name them. Bread and butter, perhaps. I am not good With names. But nameless you walked toward me And I knew you, a swelling in the heart, A silence in the heart, the wild wind-blown grass Burning— as the sun falls below the earth— Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow."
- Brigit Pegeen Kelly, The Orchard