Air for Mercury Text of the Poem eText

Brenda Hillman

Text of the Poem

I.
After the double party
for the poorly loved

when the gleam in the hound’s eye
fell like glass rain on the south

lawn of the countergarden, when 5
the image of false flags sank

in the mirrored plaques,
when the mirrored plaques

had been passed in, they took
your days and gave them back, 10

before you unsnapped first
the crenellated shoulder wings

then the fumbling then the little
ankle wings and sent them back

to the wing patrol, in the box, 15

in the metal box, in the genital
mouth of the rose (the open forms

of the state left so
undone that you were stranded

on the nonimperial coast having 20
a boat unnamed for you)

you were free, you were
having a bout of meaning—

II.
A leaf hurried on its
side. Of what is knowledge made? 25

A season stopped by without your
noticing, saying, lost file, breath boy;

the sun had leaked its power
into things, and all notation had

become inaccurate suddenly, you’d been trying 30
to talk to them from this

coast, you’d been trying to help
them in their small groups.

III.
Monsters of will and monsters of
willlessness confront the garden; a dragon 35

crow greets the dusk with its
prow. Rhyming is a tool of

friendly desperation. The spirits will return
though they’re not here now.

IV.
Oracles, iron, the misuse of fire 40
under the young earth, and this

business of being infinitely swept up
in possibility so when you put

your hand down on something white
you noticed that detail, punctuated by 45

luckless forms. But night had been
deployed: see-through parts of the moon:

lace, anima mundi; and weren’t there
two forevers, words and space, between

which more experience might ride, unencumbered? 50
You were supposed to tell them

what they’d missed; they’d read your
logics, your letters. So little space

between your letters, the words couldn’t
easily air themselves. Remember going back 55

and forth between the rooms? Blue,
green; the wings had been adjusted.

You were meant to take black
netting off a face or two. Take

something. Passion brought you 60
here; passion will save you.