We deal in fragments
because all is broken...
in the moonlight on the wine-blue sea
our black ships glow
We engrave hapless scraps
kept unspoken and undone...
scuttering out of caves of darkness
under fluttering oars
We scratch ostraka with yeses and nos
that come to blows with all we are
like a crowd of crows at dawn
falling upon a field of corn....
Night surrounds and falls,
a net congealed from half-light.
Thalloi like streaks of ink
in water blur and cloud the sight.
Has earth itself entered a cavern
luminous with mold?
They beach the dragons of their ships,
slaughter sheep and from driftwood
build a bonfire.
Watchmen are posted at the edge of pine,
fat wineskins are unloaded from the hold
to eyes that sparkle like the stars.
Sober old sailors and young drunken liars
sing joys and sorrows craving and fearing
Who knows what sleep is
lying orange-bodied on the sand?
How does Dream search out
the hemisphere of fire to warn
Does he have his own ship
riding the fluorescent wake
of the night sea?
Hid in bright day does he creep out of forest
in owl-grey twilight?
Is he winged?—does he swoop down darkly from on high?
The tetrahedron can be reduced
to two straight lines of equal length
at a right angle to one another
& from midpoint to midpoint
separated by space.
This the unbreakable labor of all pyramids.
This the origin of left and right,
of backward and forward in time.
This balance and walking upright on two legs.
This the hearth in which fire lives
& is reborn.
We leave fragments to other ears
that they might hear and mend
them into seamless amphora
holding virgin oil:
In the agora he sorts through triangles
and silver-polished spheres looking
for music in stick-figures....
We leave world and matter sorted
and stacked against the wall
like a library of possible dawns:
Kouros in worthless red clay riding
perfectly balanced a trotting, proud horse--
form more precious than electrum....
This is aiming the bow.
This is ἀρχή and its sinew.
This is the arc of rounded space and time
in which commences all mind....
On the beaked beached prow
over the ship's ravenous mouth
stands Teucer, famed archer of the Achaeans,
aiming his eye far out over the sighing sea and
for his cousin Hector:
“Come dawn, we will be off on the endless ocean—
ocean which surrounds, ocean which circles and envelops—
ocean which carries every mortal's end
to its origin...”
If space is lost unto zero
or time allows the lines
to be seen at just the right
angle from a distance,
the two straight lines
of the tetrahedron cross
or appear to cross.
Either figure, real or apparent,
makes it perfect sense to have
pontificated, almost wistfully,
as if in dream:
“And as you would that mankind do unto yourselves,
do unto them likewise....”
E. A. Costa 10 February, 2016 Granada, Nicaragua