Womb in the cave-shade


They were farmers & shepherds in West Branch,
cartwrights & blacksmiths, laboring
through pain... the rusty ring
of iron clamps, the thick stench

of horse manure, the pigs & cows...
yet took their time for quiet
in the Meeting House – let
runaways abide, lambs browse.

Their silence lodged in protest against
violence itself –
the insolence of Guelf
& Ghibelline, the gangs, the hunts...

the iron dream of domination
locking the brain-cave
in its frozen grave
(creak-echo of damnation).

There was a spring in Tuscan hills,
coiled like a rusty serpent –
green with moss, bent
into turtleshell... old Williams’

spiral (out of Coke, Blackstone).
Mules’ rustic rights
& supernatural delights
limp into leaves of a live-oak woman –

her heavy womb in the cave-shade
like a Negus by the Nile
hidden for a while...
almond ark of spring (oak-apple maid).


Quaker Meeting House, Scattergood School, West Branch, Iowa

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