30 September 2010

Middleton Place, South Carolina

A woman is spinning, spinning
endless loops of blonde wool
drawn off the limpid ponds,
corn silk blown over tidal pools.
Every naked device of sustenance
plants a prison seed of wealth,
which has undone us all.

(Do not look for the grand house,
that would bear down on you
from the curve-limbed Ashley:
even bricks can burn, acrid smoke
mingling with sodden heat.)

She bends, silent, combing
thorns, burrs from off-white,
ignoring the ghosts
who gather by her spun hair

Behind you looms live oak,
telling, too late, of Indian trails
inland.  Translated bamboo edges
cypress trees that brood over knees,
hold them in water, suspended.

Her lips purse, but shape
no hymn to mark fallen
dark figures, headstones
leaned against the barn.
Engravings ease their variations.

The drip of the spring house
beneath the still carved rise
trickles to the rice pond
under thin white wings.

She turns the wheel, a spherical  whirl
for thriving azaleas, unkempt camellias,
stilling echoes of cooper, smith,
chandler, tanner, ostler.

(You wait until night, longing
for the tap and click of birds
that abide classical gardens,
for the penned mules to maraud
beyond their bounds, seeking acreage.)

Under barred rose-blue clouds
tipping into thick magnolia,
a woman whirlpools string
spiraling everything to a thinness
that dissolves in the lines of a patient palm.

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