Nature Be Damned - Anne Wilkinson
Pray, where would lamb and lion be
If they could lay down in amity?
Could lamb then nibble living grass?
Lamb and lion both must starve;
Bird and flower, too, must die of love.
I go a new dry way, permit no weather
Here, on undertaker’s false green sod
Where I sit down beneath my false tin tree.
There’s too much danger in a cloud,
In wood or field, or close to moving water.
With my black blood - who can tell?
The dart of one mosquito might be fatal;
Or in the flitting dusk a bat
Might carry away my destiny,
Hang it upside down from a rafter
In a barn unknown to me.
I hide my skin within the barren city
Where artificial moons pull no man’s tide,
And so escape my green love till the day
Vine breaks through brick and strangles me.
I was a witch and I could be
Bird or leaf
Or branch and bark of tree.
In rain and two by two my powers left me;
Instead of curling down as root and worm
My feet walked the surface of the earth,
And I remember a day of evil sun
When forty green leaves withered on my arm.
And so I damn the font where I was blessed,
Am unbeliever; was deluded lover; never
Bird or leaf or branch and bark of tree.
Each, separate as curds from whey,
Has signature to prove identity.
And yet we’re kin in appetite;
Tree, bird in the tree, and I.
We feed on dung, a fly, a lamb
And burst with seed
Of tree, of bird, of man,
Till tree is bare
And bird and I are bone
And feaster is reborn
The feast, and feasted on.
Once a year in the smoking bush
A little west of where I sit
I burn my winter caul to a green ash.
This is not an annual festival,
Nothing to stun or startle;
A coming together - water and sun
In summer’s first communion.
Today again I burned my winter caul
Though senses nodded, dulled by ritual.
One hundred singing orioles
And five old angels wakened me;
Morning sky rained butterflies
And simple fish, bass and perch,
Leapt from the lake in salutation.
St. Francis, drunk among the daisies,
Opened his ecstatic eye.
Then roused from this reality I saw
Nothing, anywhere, but snow.