1996 Dave Awl


Aye-ayes and axolotls solemn at my birth
in the cooling cave where clay broke clean:
with orca eye and painted sway,
the puppet told my passage.

I emerge unshod to blink and shy,
moth-blind and half unmade.
Fifty moons and the whistle's fire
attend the rising cry:
a syrup of shadows and vinegar,
chiaroscuro of my uncertainty.

Aye-ayes and axolotls present
to measure the rising of my blood.
Quagga snort and ocelot cry,
fine cracks through the armor of heaven:
in the metal of my compassion
I kill days and dreams of days.

Aye-ayes and axolotls attend my wedding:
in the nether dell where beam nor bone
can come without my say. He is pumice stone
and I the river's tension. In the heat of his hand
I nothing am: the spring released, the skeleton
sprung. I guard all truths and hear all tales.
My nights are hawks and kraken song.

Fifty moons and the whistle's fire.
Yet our animal heaven
rusts with time, the clockwork
balks, the sinews stiffen. He walks slow,
and sight perpetually softens. The diamond
quarrel finds its mark, a tooth that drinks
greedy from the well of seasons.

Aye-ayes and axolotls mark
the draining of my pond.
They come as the ocarinas ebb
and the lilies burn with
autumn dry. He falls into the silent
trench: I follow sometime later.

Flower of chalk and the tattered edge
where leaves surround the sky:
a cluster of silent, fearful things.
With orca eye and painted sway,
ready for my conduction.

Aye-ayes and axolotls for my requiem,
they guide my soul
through the brush and the bright. We
navigate by mirror sense
where none but the animal
pass without their say.