Fernão the Gardener Has Premonitions

By YVETTE CHRISTIANSË

 

There is a stain on the horizon.
It leaks into the world, covers
the linens, covers the faces
and turns this ocean, shuddering,
from its course. I speak
two tongues—one dressed
in syllables of government,
shielded by amen and hallelujah,
the other a ragged stumbling,
of this place, utterances
of silence and elation, wave breaks
and soil—I speak two tongues,
and neither will suffice.

There is a stain on the horizon.
It covers the world, a curse
whose logic will not be exposed.
It has no knowledge of amen
or hallelujah. It soils the waters.
It breaks the gardens—and
these are my vines and these
the fruits of a labour I understand.
It turns the sun away and my lips
will not move beyond this approach
to its name. And, yes, there is no name
for what I see, but this foraging
for a new lexicon of horror.

I speak two tongues, one
squabbles between possession
and longing, one occupies the lower
ranges of confidence and goes in search
of leaves shaken by the wind,
the warmth of a simple flame.
Daily, in the way days go—
neophyte glad in the language of water,
of grains of salt blown up from the ocean—
I grow away from one tongue
and into the other, though neither
will save me now, or the world.

 

 

Yvette Christiansë is a South African-born poet, novelist, and scholar.

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Fernão the Gardener Has Premonitions

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