An Interlude

My heart beats to the feet of the first faithful,
long ago dancing in Broceliande’s forest,
And my mind when it ceases to contend with the
lies and dreams of Generalissimo Franco
delights in the company of defeated but glorious men
who have taken to the highlands or,
in love with the people, striven to keep secret ways
of brotherhood and compassion alive,
spreading Truth
like seeds of a forbidden hallucínogen, marijuana, or morning glory
hidden away among the grasses of the field.
Love long conceald! Love long suffering!
Love we never knew moved us from the beginning!
Now it may be we are driven to your high
pasture. Hard presst,
my heart opens as if there were a pass in the rock,
unknown, a bypass,
close enough to be very like death.
Solitary door, road of solitudes,
the mute song at last sung in the veins among strangers!
I must go to the old inn in the canyon,
to the roller-skating rink among the pine trees.
For the dancers have come down from the mountains,
and the piano player strikes up such a sound the fiddler
sails away in the waving and waist-clasping rounds of it.
The people then are the people of a summer’s night over and gone,
the people of a Polish dance hall before the last war,
in the sweat and reek of Limburger cheese and Bermuda onions,
sweltering in beer and music, Kansas country evangels,
or summer people in the Catskills
who have taken up square dancing as the poet takes up
measures of an old intoxication that leads into poetry,
not “square” dancing, but moving figures,
the ages of man and various personae of an old drama,
coupling and released from coupling,
moving and removing themselves, bowing
and escaping into new and yet old configurations,
the word “old” appearing and reappearing
in the minds of the youths dancing.
so that I remember I was an ancient man,
“Granpaw,” nineteen and ninety,
taking the hand of little Nell, dolce-doeing,
and the dance the grand séance of romancing feet in their numbers,
forward and back, we were the medium
for folk of the Old Days in their ever returning.
In the great figure of many figures the four
directions and empires
change into four times, and opposites of
opposites meet and mate,
separating and joining, ascending a ladder of litanies
until they are “sent,”
losing themselves in each other’s being found again.
Now, because I am Fire and you are Water,
Water and Fire kiss and embrace.
Water and Fire dance together. This,
the grand mimesis,
imitates the wholeness we feel true to What Is.
We must go back to sets of simple things,
hill and stream, woods and the sea beyond —
the time of day: dawn, noon, bright or clouded,
five o’clock in November five-o’clock-of-the-year
— changing definitions of the light.
And say the dancers take the six unbroken lines of the Chinese hexagram,
and six dance for the six broken lines, the six gates or openings
in the otherwise stable figure: there are twelve in all.
Dividing into groups of three, they dance in four groups.
What twelve things of your world will you appoint guardians,
Truth’s signators?
Salt, Cordelia said. Gold and lead.
The poet, the great maker of wars and states, and
the saint, Burckhardt named as the creative
masters of history.
But now, let the twelve be unnamed.
The dancers come forward to represent unclaimd things.