What sort of plumage is my exuberant words,
words whose foliage no Autumns could scourge,
whose leaves still flutter in speech and verse
With what sort of rhythm the word bells resonates,
a word that chimes with vespers and faith,
with Edgar Allan Poe’s metallic tales,
with Sir Betjeman’s Archibald and Hampstead plains,
with St. Mungo’s grace!
What sort of thrills are embedded in wings,
an ode to agility in fowls and fins,
a vision of freedom in inward things
and flights within!
What clusters of stars reside in smiles,
a word whose luster with galaxies vies,
a beam to de-shroud the downcast brows,
to rob them of frowns!
He drove me to work slowly in his own senile style,
a couple of black dice instantly caught my eye,
dangling from the rearview mirror, a taxi-driver’s charm,
with threes engraved in gleaming white
and numbers one and four on half-hidden sides.
I am used to seeing beads, fresheners, and ornaments
that some believe can distract the evil eye
but dice was a novelty that enflamed my mind.
What if these numbers are an encrypted message from the sky!
What if nothing is random in our complicated lives!
I pondered over their significance like a bewildered child,
then added the numbers up to figure some meaning out.
Eleven, the outcome, is double one,
the number I adored as a child,
but the appearance of its twin at that stage in my life
multiplied interpretations of what it could signify:
the twin pillars of Solomon’s Temple,
or a roofless gate to the other world!
Perhaps parallel lives,
but if so, what parallels mine!
Charlotte Mew, a Nemophilist
Who but Mew heard the grasses bashfully mate,
the cry of an angel admonishing the butchery of trees,
the agony of London’s ubiquitous planes
in every massacre enjoined by the modern age,
She evoked the spirits that dwelt in wood,
the oak-housed elves,
the consecrated yews,
the venerable beeches,
the beloved sycamores,
a sentient, sacred world.
She dreaded the three-headed monster that inhabited Europe,
machinery, democracy, and science with their torture tools,
the axe, the rope, the amputating saw,
that manufacture unhallowed roods.
The Essenes once settled on the Mount of Sion,
the sacred site the Templars were bound to woo,
over which many races their disputes would brew,
now a blood-stained metaphor for modern wars.
Edessa, the Syrian gem in the north,
upon whose throne a Nazarene monarch had ruled,
a Fisher King in the most purple of robes,
had lost its hallowed crown of thorns.
The Nile whose ripples had Moses borne,
in whose mirror Nefertiti and Cleopatra viewed
the resurrection of Osiris from a sunken tomb,
is now a battleground for water feuds.
And Notre Dame de-Paris, the grail of stone,
who frowned upon Jacques de Molay’s doom,
the immolation of a knight whose Order had bloomed,
now stands disfigured and badly scorched.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.