A Brief History of Echoes


A Brief History of Echoes

Womanhood had come to her in a warzone,
after the time when the dune grasses
and chaparral had been cleared and scorched,
the wetlands drained and the creeks diverted
around the undulated greens, all making way
for the terracotta villas – those uncanny colonies
sprawling as far as the eye could see and beyond

she left the sea for a high hilltop cave and sang
into the void, listening for the song of hydrogen

For many years, she heard only voices of machines
the blood-curdling anthems of tyrants and
the shrieking of their terracotta villa wives who,
after French manicures and Thai massages
juiced beets with burdock roots,
after holding a benefit to benefit
the last polar bears and running caribou, now
needing new homes in the lower forty-eight
because pipelines need straight lines–
she heard the sound of Nothing for the first time

Nearby on far-off Io, interstellar sirens
heard her gentle song echoing in their
Jovian conk shells; they pulled the anchor of
their iron rock, and set a course for the small sapphire
of Anthemoessa, breaking the sound waves with their
cold frequencies, following a lonely current

Circe, fierce captain on the bridge, piloted
the great rock across the oceans of eternal night
the ship broke the ice fields of Saturn’s rings
with its mighty iron hulls, sailed fearlessly
into the eye of earth’s perfect storm of unlistening

Over time, the iron oxide dust on her plastic
skin began to rearrange itself, and so
the ambient terracotta villa Muzak piped in
through holes in the houses of the Lotus Eaters
became both Requiem and Prelude, inaudible to all except her,
there, listening from her hilltop cave to the silent void
with nothing but a small human heart

She, shopworn oracle, foresaw that the next age
would begin with a wind chime in the driftwood eaves
with the shape of laughter in the darkness
with the hushabye of pine needles on a granite peak,
with the ring of a monk’s singing bowl washed up with
the debris of the evening’s plastic tide

It would begin with the wind whistling through
the wasted miles of organ pipes laid in the oily tundra
where the metal had rotted, and the wind,
blowing around the bones of the polar bears
and the caribou and of the cannibal men
whispered of changes not yet known

Humming softly to this ancient song, suddenly recalled,
the woman made a small fire for Our Ladies of the Iron Rock
who were so weary from their journey

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