Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Constructing the Sky

[Was reading Walcott's Haitian Trilogy over the weekend, and sat down to write a post about it, but ended up with this instead. I'm not going to review the plays, except to say that reading them made me think of Shakespeare. I can think of no higher praise than that.]

This is how it began: not the stars ascending
to their orderly places but an explosion
of pregnant matter, glory's starburst, bang of revolt.
The white fist opened. Galaxies scattered like grain
from fingers of chaos, and the sky was a field
sown with flame. Who knew the stars would prove
so toothed? Would remember the dragon's hunger,
his meteor pride? Open mouthed and dumb,
we watched the armed constellations fly
North and South, watched them divide the sky
between them, dispute the unborn map of the night.
Anger released us, then tore us apart.
We fled in the centrifugal dark, defined our freedom
by the distance between us, bathed in the shifting
red of revenge. Dreaming of heaven,
we created the void. Nothing remains of those days
but this rubbish of burnt-out suns, embers
of a world ambushed and factioned, a history
of darkness wherein we sign imagined fates
to the black page of death. How to revive
the ancient gravities, convene the stars legislature?
How to arraign the galaxies in their opposed stances,
still the rippling rumors of these old injuries,
and construct, from these uneasy pinpricks,
something we could all believe in, look up to, use,
in a confusion of currents, to find our way forward.

4 comments:

Priya said...

Don't know why this resonates with my brain. Anger and revenge leave gaping holes, holes that leave you frenzied and panting trying to fill...

??! said...

You haven't by any chance also been reading Attanasio's 'Centuries', have you? And if you haven't, the reference to the dragon and a void instead of heaven, was simply uncanny.

Falstaff said...

priya: Thanks

??!: No, I haven't. Have actually never heard of it. Should I have?

??! said...

Well, I only randomly discovered it myself last month. One of his earlier, lesser known works. Not as brilliant as Radix, or the Arthor series, but interesting nevertheless. If you're still into SF&F, that is.