Hilary Plum: Lions

Saul Leiter, Barbara, 1951. Source: designobserver.com


The long fact of the turned face is named faith.

Through the tall windows opposing the tapestries

that depict the gaze of the lion, low hills with dark cows

remain far. A pheasant plump in the dirt, a voice saying you,

and modern angles guide us into the room where we were

never again, as in the absence of any machine a man

watches the ball propelled down the lane toward him

then bends, pins in hand. I hear his regular breath.


You once sent me (just now) a manifesto composed

decades ago, its sloganeering an instrument anyone

tried when damning the candles of the high chandelier.

Never before was I anyone, and still I am revealed

in the glass face of the hallway bookcases I thought

were meant for you to use. Beneath the weight of

our error the stone of the dumbwaiter cleaved. At

times the voice of my father assumed a tone of pride.


My hands arrive as declarative between cow and calf

when I seize daily this milk for my own. Leaning long

over the fence, a shadow, a husband whistling lightly,

or a stand of bamboo wind sings through. I tend to turn

toward what I cannot distinguish, cream pursuing the curve

of my calf or the path toward my nipple of your tongue.

Today the sun sounds like birds.


Before us someone cut a way through the woods then

watched who took it. Here was chamber, arena, and jail.

A library whose scent blurs photographs, a fire that licked

at the brocade drapes for the sake just of light, of your

gaze years to come, arriving at a page frothing with white

over swells of text we at last could read. Across a field

species invaded. When a boy sat at the loud loom he was

a girl with quicksilver hands, lungs hissing with dust.


Day after day appeared. Wax hit hot the floor like a hymn

on the still-flooding deck. We had nothing to do with

our hands, or the sweet work of thighs, or any skin

adrift over ocean or bone, today a sky shot through

with official witnesses, whosoever traces the sunlit

instants of our text against every cell in the firmament,

your eyes in the cobalt-alloyed air.