The Oral Tradition
I. The three schoolgirls wait in the snow for their bus, or the mother’s yellow beachwagon. II. I, too, am a child, actually an X-ray of a small child’s chest. During the winter, my best friend contracted polio. Her father burned all her linen in a red barrel under the elm trees. III. A not at all anxious Israelite with a jeweled breastplate is carrying a clay tablet through the rooms of our house. When he passes my bed I see sparrows flying from a nearly sunken freighter. IV. I asked the Israelite what is that thing he’s carrying? He says don’t be alarmed it’s just a wall switch— on/off, off/on… I wake crying. V. In an old bezel of wisdom please understand the coincidence of a large mirror resting flat on darkly polished floorboards. The frame of the mirror and the wood of the floor are indistinguishable one from the other. A pearly wet light everywhere! VI. When on the wall, the mirror is closed. VII. The simple first plane of spirit is not extensive, it is switchback after switchback. The mountain is collapsed as with the mirror but, yes, with zippers like a human skull. VIII. A chosen one’s large head touches his sister’s feet while they travel down the birth canal into a bath of midnight light from a sooty lamp. This is Tibet. There’s a plague and conifers. IX. It is deliberate like the fish slapping the floor of the black reed-boat. X. One bone of this fish, called the Elias bone, is stuck in the throat. XI. Washing your face in cow urine. A turnstile of light. A table set with bread and wine: one bone of this fish, called the Elias bone, is stuck in the throat of the fish XII. like a compliment of mirrorglass or a simple switch of birch across your hands and face being washed in cow urine as a disinfectant… beside the seven lakes.