From a magician’s midnight sleeve
distribute all their love-songs
over the dew-wet lawns.
And like a fortune-teller’s
their marrow-piercing guesses are whatever you believe.
But on the Navy Yard aerial I find
for love on summer nights.
Five remote red lights
keep their nests there; Phoenixes
burning quietly, where the dew cannot climb.
I have known all the storms that roll.
I have been a singer after the fashion
of my people – a poet of passion.
All that is past.
Quiet has come into my soul.
Life’s tempest is done.
I lie at last
A bird cliff under the midnight sun.
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.
Czeslaw Milosz, 1971
In April, 1954, Time magazine described seventy-nine bored American G.I.s stationed at a NATO base in Iceland murdering a pod of one hundred killer whales. In a single morning the soldiers, armed with rifles, machine guns, and boats, rounded up and then shot the whales to death.
Like a boat mid-air
The liners boiled their pastures:
The liners of flesh,
The Arctic steamers
Brains the size of a teacup
Mouths the size of a door
The sleek wolves
Mowers and reapers of sea kine.
THE GIANT TADPOLES
(Meat their algae)
Like sheep or children.
Shot from the sea’s bore.
Turned and twisted
Flung blood and sperm.
Gnashed at their tails and brothers
Cursed Christ of mammals,
Snapped at the sun,
Ran for the Sea’s floor.
No angels dance those bridges.
OH GUN! OH BOW!
There are no churches in the waves,
No passages or crossings
From the beasts’ wet shore.