Dora MalechUSAWriting2009
Back
The Eel (After Montale)

 

A siren sprung to heed
some unsung self-same song
beats back the Baltic again
again to take her leave
by force of frozen seas
and move to meet
our rivers’ warmer mouths.
Her body in and up
against the gradient
the current insistent
artery to capillary always
more within and ever
flexed to any vessel even
as the last lumen
breaks granite’s
near-impenetrable heart.
Even now through beds
of mud and muck until
at last sun struck off
a chestnut’s tinder
kindles a flicker
in barely a ditch slipped
from the slope
of the Apennine spine
and on to the Romagna.
It is our eel our lit whip
our arrow feathered with fire
and let fly like an amen.
Unlikely midwife
from the gullies’ slime
and parched creeks
of the Pyrenees it’s she
alone would birth
a green breath back
seek life in a charred fist
still and in the sucked sludge
of the lungs gone under.
She is the wick whose spark
says start again
again says all begins
when all looks wrack and ash:
her glimpsed glint twin
to the flash your lashes frame
to shine intact from the sinkhole
slop-trough no-man’s-land
where every son
of every man remains
interred—
you can’t come clean
and kiss your sister?