ANTIGONE IN BERN
The mystery you bear is a golden cell. I paint your eyes out on the canvas, substitute a johnboat, a prayer wheel, a piece of ripe fruit. The golden cell pulses—it is empty as far as I can see. Doctors passing through the ward observe the golden cell with their packs of dull instruments. I paint out the doctors, because at Compline all the animals assemble in a perfect circle. They want to listen to the song of the golden cell, they want to sleep in the world’s strong bed. I lift the mystery you bear from its affliction & place it before the animals. They paint it out. They are sorry. They will start over when the snows arrive, gliding down like weary skiers from the mountain.
Untenanted, mercy commends faith’s glittering carnival: Tickets, please. You are not the mirror’s bad-faith angel. The bitter sycamore lost its branches in the storm: I watched some workmen gather them in. Gather them in, one last verse before prophecy’s crude volte-face. Occult hygiene of samizdat the bone-scan infiltrates as coal-husk, copula. Sympathy’s rejoinder: distance made me. From “cell” we reckon: body, prison, hive. Funny how some men collect the evidence, Zion-errata.
G.C. Waldrep is the author most recently of feast gently (Tupelo, 2018) and a long poem, Testament (BOA Editions, 2015). Waldrep lives in Lewisburg, PA., where he teaches at Bucknell University and edits the journal West Branch. From 2007 to 2018 he served as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.