Sarasvati in the New World (poem) | Gregory McNamee

Sarasvati in the New World (poem)

Solipsistic, blinking, wander
trembling, mindless, through whitewashed archways
and jade curves of chacmools,
among hyacinth, turquoise, birds of paradise,
amid the annihilating fire,
the obliterated past.  Envision
Haida, Menomenee, Cashinahua, Tukano,
Kayapo, Cakchiquel, Bororo, Tillamook,
Modoc, Wampanoag, Gé, Chiricahua,
Vizcaina and Tuatha de Danann.
Try to locate the history
that has been disappeared.
Every one of us is a foreigner now.

In the New World a new millennium
arises to erase whatever has come before it.
Two thousand nails in a splintered cross,
minus ten and counting, two thousand
brads carved of jade, and a rose far away
in Jericho.  Who among us may gather it?

See the rose spread in Casasola's faces,
in the mummified newborns of Guanajuato,
in the murdered plowmen of Salvador,
in the open eyes of los desaparecidos,
in the supple noise of mountain water,
in new leather, flour cakes, raw diesel,
and dooryards full of fighting cocks
clawing at petals.
Who truly believes he has mastered these?
What, generals, is left to be commanded?

A rose in Jericho, but time ends,
and the earth plants its sweet flowers
in the boneyards of the Americas,
in the ribcages of conquistadores.
Take the black glass from its heart.
Spin it northward to dying seas,
spin it southward to dying forests,
the wounded houses of infinity.
Spin it over countless nations.
Spin it until it melts into gold.

Two thousand nails, and Sarasvati trembles
within the mouth of all eternity,
within the eyes of mythless continents.
She sings an air from the Río de la Plata
of dancing mothers and screaming jets.
She shapes a bit of bone from Chile.
She smoothes a pyramid of emeralds
and zacuan feathers, endlessly.

A cataract of new blood thunders
from red-tiled rooftops everywhere.
A hundred million flowers wither.
Sarasvati, mother of all we will never see,
Athena, mother of our emptiness,
Nuestra Señora, blessed trinity,
none among us can know why you ever smiled.
Foreigners, we walk between gates of flame.
Where now are the ears to hear our prayers?
Who can live within a wall of fire?

The world exists in order to be made into a book.      – Stéphane Mallarmé