Poem for Dominique Lowell


Thunders across the sky but did not rain
down the stretch of that drought month.
Empty river, no water flows but a scroll
unravels and a whisper: before the law
a woman held man from his violence.

The duke devoured by insects, without
witness. Dry thunder through cloud-works.

Sun beam grips what once in riverbed slept.
Airlines crossing skyways cast shadows
over all the world wide surface.
Laws to this earth came unable to keep
man from his violence;

the duke alone
regretting the loss of what he thought
a sublime fertility, leaving man to his play,
retired to mountain top where,
even in backward times, water begins.

He loved only to mingle thoughts in river
mouths, planted august bulbs beneath
December's stones. Still no rain spoke.
All naked as art would have him dress,
fist to the sun he spoke, "blasted elements,
in you I find no coincidence."

Lightning strike creases sky, flat again,
a woman reclines in bend of river,
a nude, and artless, on barnacle shells.
At her feet ship passes and blood flows
from it. Timidly she turns stones over,
escapes a crab sidelong from exposure
and she laughs! Just where she lies
cannot be traced nor mapped. Before the law
I swear a woman sent man to his warcraft.

-- Alexander Laurence