Letter to Orphée
an earth lyre, I think of an elemental music,
a music made of earth, metals and woods
and stones of earth, played by wind howling
outside the house this dim, blustery day. The clouds
last evening, and pale light this morning, look like snow coming,
not rain. Rushes of sound, wind blowing across
the housetop, reverberate down the chimney.
Orpheus picks up a strangely curved branch of fallen
wood off the forest floor, strings it with copper wires, and plays.
His lyre summons spirits of the air, voices hiding behind
wind and mist, his singing voice, his poetry, becomes the telling
of seasons, days turning the planet under stars.
An elemental voice describing a concerto of ever-changing forces
and spirals in the sky. Spiral wood beams struck by lightning
embrace a pale white stone from anywhere but here.
Perhaps an ancient sea. You cannot be unaware, Orpheus,
that time and change take us all, that these stones eroding
to dust and leaves in this interstellar wind were once
a shallow sea, or that the peak of our tallest mountain
is made of shells of sea creatures that died millions of years gone
to fall to deep ooze and be pressed into rock
by the pressures of what came after. My home
is a temple of standing stones. Red and gold sandstones
form a shelter around whose curves the wind howls. We work
these metal flakes, gold bright and soft copper green, into veins
of the lyre of Orpheus, seams in the wood, ore seams in the earth.
Its copper strings gleam with forged memory. Its curve
is a memory of birds nesting in the crook of an ancient bole,
a tree much older than any bird, once fallen forgotten
by the descendants of sparrows and robins who once it sheltered.
Birds nest in the hair, the ear, of Orpheus, and dictate their songs
to his receptive tongue, his voice which forgets nothing,
not even the oldest groan of the planet giving spontaneous birth to life.
It's tempting to believe that those who refuse to hear these spirits
singing have themselves no souls, but we must not judge, we must
leave room for revelation. Everything connects. Webs and orbs
and lyre-spiders who weave them. Atoms of everything, whirling
in apparent silence within these fossiled stones, glint and spark
in light cast by the voice of the son of dreaming. His torn limbs
cast upon waters and forest floor. Orphée retrieves his own bones
and sinew as he picks up another fallen treelimb to weave
a newer lyre. Look, will you not: gold leaves glow
in the last rays of afternoon, below this hillside meadow,
and behind that is the whirling sparkle of molecules dancing,
and behind that the velocity of a shining planet, an orb
hurling itself into silence. We are the cliffs we jump from.
Our naked flesh breaks the laketop shimmer as we fall,
we disappear forever into that water mirror, then placidity returns.
Low hum of oceans singing in the blood, wind in the copper wires
of a sacred city, a lyre strung above dark streets the moon guards.
A forest of shadows grows within oil slicks reflecting streetlights
and trash bins. But in time, deep time, this forest made of bricks
will be overeaten and digested by new forests, returned and ink-vined
along borders of papyrus leaves woven into sheets of sand
by the lyre's unending song. The lowest string on a harp
of air and ice, the lowest tone that, struck,
can shatter crystal mountains. Wind strokes
the highest strings into humming.
Orpheus takes breath, opens his mouth to sing again.
What comes forth
shapes wind-blown broken sandflakes
back into mirrors full of starlight.