Thou Hast Blessed the Work
of His Hands
He was the one who would not use his face
would keep it in reserve, would use his hands,
one at a time, alternately. Would use feet.
Would be happy when it suited, would
mourn when required. Such a poem as was
needed, he would make. Would want,
when those he loves are in pain,
to be. There. To bleed for all equally.
And here was a thing to believe: to live whole
lives with littleness, how tired it makes us,
a sharp fear, this point to which the eye was
drawndefames then defeats the handan agony
it is to follow self into its shameful needs and
so forth. Wherever you can: count said
Francis Galton. We do not know most things.
I might know a few things. I can
rarely tell the difference. Where there are flocks
of Monk Parakeets, Green Neighbors, they rouse
us to collect feathers under streetlights
on nightly walks where are builded unsightly nests.
A dozen wild parakeets in furious formation fly
across the park swerve to streak past, accidental, me.
Pyromancy, a method of augury by reading
weblike patterns which appear on bone surface
following the application of heat, especially
favored in Chinabut what did it sound like
when the bone cracked, its surface crazed?
The sound of the word sound, as in the sound
of young girls. Or the voices in my head.
Complex looking, calligraphically.
Among things to love in this world are eyelet fabrics,
suggestive nests of absence promising
a glimpse of flesh and remembrance of touch,
of the feel of the young world.
The skin beneath the fabric shines
Wann was a word for it, for gloss or sheen; Fealo
meant glint, the sparkle of sun, say, on waves;
while lux meant the source of light, color
the effect of that light on a surface, as of
the moistening skin beneath the eyelets.
Lumen, the ray of light traveling between
the surface and the eye, the source and
the surface; splendor was the word for
that final reflected, lustrous quality,
that which draws the hand inexorable.
The winds sweeping the surface
of the waters diminish them, as does
the ethereal sun unraveling them
by his rays. De Rerum Natura 5, 390.
When an electron moves to a higher orbit
it does not move but merely is now elsewhere
once it was here, now it is there. This is not
possible in the old world where I used to live
by manufacture. The new world is one of
probabilities, where numbers add up
and the glint of sun on flesh is ephemeral.
All is diminished in his world, yet all the more
unaccountably glorious. We love it all,
and each the other, or so it seems. His hands
cracked a sound a second face fallen.
Bin Ramkes eighth book
of poems, Matter, is forthcoming from the University of
Iowa Press. He edits the Denver Quarterly and a poetry
series for the University of Georgia Press.
Originally published in the December
2003/January 2004 issue of Boston Review