THE CHAMBER OF MAIDEN THOUGHT
on an exhibit by Wolfgang Laib
In this hived air around us,
there’s a dream of virginal honey
and slabs of beeswax that form
a room from true kinds of light.
No, let us say chamber for now,
I’m thinking of Keats’ chamber
of maiden thought: We become
intoxicated with the light. We see
nothing but pleasant wonders
and think of delaying there
forever in delight.
Autumn. The year, 1818,
when tuberculosis flooded
each chamber of his body
with a delicious eventuality.
Delight. Delaying there forever.
Under this light, ice vanishes.
What remains is the same marble
from Macedonia that whispered
to Michelangelo. A vessel for milk
the curator refreshes once a day,
a low rectangle of stone so bright
each white is indistinguishable.
Many doors are set open
but all dark, all leading to dark passages. . .
we feel the burden of the mystery.
It is centered on the floor like a portal
to fall through.
HOW TO LOVE THE PORCH LIGHT
which snicks on moon-lamp-quickened where
one evening gloams unevenly from the last...
To love the porch light
which is the spangled eye of a drowsy house…
Love the porch light
which promises to scorch and sizzle our wings…
The porch light
which brings us close, orbiting our bright undoing…
we have yearned for, worshipped really…
Flittering away what time we have left.
Allen Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood as well as Elegy in the Passive Voice. A recipient of fellowships from the NEA in literature and the NEH in education, Braden has published in The Times Literary Supplement (UK), Virginia Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The Hudson Review, Orion, Spelt (UK) and elsewhere. He lives near the historic site of Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood, Washington, USA.