Universal Atlas | A Survey Of Our Wares

Sestina Eight

I called your name from the tower of Babble,
Where the old ones’ breath shakes each branch
And stone. A sweet country girl alone in the wood
By the silencing stream. My voice full of strain
But you gather it not, your head’s in a book,
You notice not fauna or fungus at all. Smell

Tied strongest to memory. Warm wood smell,
Smell of wet paper, of words spoke in Babble
When the sun sang and the grass bound book
Lay untouched. She reached above for a branch,
Pulling herself so as not to tumble. A small strain,
She was fit, have you not seen the piles of wood

She split with one arm, babe in the other? Wood
You were lost in. Wood of shadow and smell,
Of fern and fungus, and that odd genetic strain
Of lotus whose fragrance inhaled causes babble,
Stagger, insight and forgetting. It mixes with branch
Water to perfection when distilled. I wrote the book

I found in its midst. Sunlight, and resin, this book,
Beams of light, green texture and hue, grain wood
And static. Of the earth god’s tree your family branch
Has been removed. In its place: sap and the smell
Of scorched exile. No willow birthed the babble
That mutters her name. An oak of lie tale’s strain

Tells of truths you swallow, blending genetic strain
With sunlight and moss. Its all in the sacred book.
A little of everything merging in some organic babble.
The language of texture and scrape, the raw wood
Splintering each page, the freshest boughs smell
Green and lie smooth on the pages, each branch

A scratch and sniff reminder of her among branch
And thicket. Even as the dinner is served I strain
to remember it all. How do you translate “honey-book”
Into the language of thickets. Why do I often smell
Our mulch when standing in a stream? The wood
Ticks cling to the fur of our lost pets, and we,

Swinging from each branch, each breath a book,
Each thought a strain, and in every single wood
Every single smell – a rich must and brook’s babble.

by Jeffrey Enright & Laurence Lillvik

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