Sixth Elegy, by Michael Palmer

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[Readings]

Sixth Elegy

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From Little Elegies for Sister Satan, a poetry collection, which was published in May 2021 by New Directions.

Here, Sister, it can be said
that good-by means hello,
day night, far near, here
where the rivers run uphill
and the clouds lie still

and your shadow, ghost sister,
emits an incendiary light.
Sister, we have ridden the mute centaurs
and firebirds round and round in the dark
and slowly learned to spell

without words, gauge the ebbs and swells
of the untellable tale. Praise the infinite,
nameless tellers of tales
swaying from the poplar’s limbs.
The wind belongs to them.

To us the breath,
the frayed thread, the turn
and return of the juggler’s stolen song.
Nothing to know, nothing to tell
of the now and the then after all.

I see the world is mad, sings Kabir,
who knew neither ink nor pen
as he wandered the islands of this earth
where up is ever down
and song has no sound.


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