from the rubble-edge


She came from the rubble-edge of tracks,
my little Jessie, O –
her father gambled so,
her mother sunk low, like a parallax

of sallow sun.  Harsh raptor features,
scavenged palimpsest,
thin gewgaws in a needle-nest –
indifferent lights, long-distant stars...

– as if the morning held no lamp
for choppy grizzlies, salt-
&-pepper crowns.  O Walt,
where be thy warm palm nowThy camp

amid tin canvases o’ cheery braves?
Jonah & Jessie, splintered
by the sea, had wintered
in the bottomland, like jasper leaves;

no voice of kind encouragement,
no ring-dove warbling
could break the iron thing
that iced the whole whale-monument.

Only one bright prong near St. Louis
promised their release –
an upturned kayak, Miss
Virginia (airy gate to happiness).

Slant waves of sorrow wash across
the little pine deck, Jessie
sang, but comfort thee
my soft cathedral floats on moss.


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