Now, Departed

Mitt Ann

Poem. Previously published in Manastash Literary, Spring 2022.

Thus departed Auden, Heaney, or Eliot,
now resting in hard soil.
we stand over them, sandalled,
on spent words and Word:

Now, Christ, my God, hangs on a cross
       in an implacable horizon
His lips are baked and black.
       I trace the labyrinth
       on my common palm,
       “the sign is… burning…”
before exhaling,
to move away from what was, and is,
still, a recognizable face.

~ ~ ~

A real moon over this imaginary garden.
Gardeners trim the umbilical cords of rugged brown
       with their sleeves un-rolled.

Standing some distance away from them,
       the twigs still shine an unoffending glow.
       Blood-plastered garden, foreshadowed bodies of decay,
       but we stand sandalled on solid earth.
We begin to walk easily,
bow, pray for this wilderness to be
a promised land.

Departed, Now

  • Line 1: Cf. “Thus departed Hiawatha” in “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Line 3: Cf. “sandalled” in “General William Booth Enters into Heaven” by Vachel Lindsay’s
  • Line 4: Cf. “spent word” in “Ash Wednesday” by Thomas Stearns Eliot
  • Line 6: Cf. Cf. “the untouchable implacable horizon”, manuscript draft, Marianne Moore edited by Marsden Hartley, as qtd in Emily Setina’s ““Mountains Being a Language with Me” Marianne Moore,
  • Line 7: Cf. “with black lips baked” in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Line 12: Cf. “That was, and still is” in “Letter to Lord Byron (1936) by Wystan Hugh Auden
  • Line 13: Cf. “still knowable face” in “Casualty” by Seamus Heaney
  • Line 14: Cf. “Poetry” by Marianne Moore
  • Line 15: Cf. Clement Greenberg’s “Umbilical Cord of Gold”, Lapham’s Quarterly, 1931,
  • Line 16: Cf. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by Thomas Stearns Eliot
  • Line 19: Cf. “blood-plastered” in “Mycenae Lookout” by Seamus Heaney; Cf. “It was omen and return, an illumined limen/We’d crossed ahead of time, foreshadowed bodies” in The makings of a music by Seamus Heaney, as quoted in “Boustrophedon between Hellas and Home” by Oliver Taplin in Chapter 2: Seamus Heaney and the Classics: Bann Valley Muses, 1931, Oxford University Press.
  • Line 23: Cf. “That promised land it will not be ours to enter, and we shall die in the wilderness” in The Function of Criticism at the Present Time by Matthew Arnold