after Elise Matthesen
He should be ice in a northern garden,
a moss-flanked marble whose fingers cling
as stilly to his flute-stops as last night's rain
between the bowing heads of roses,
sheltered forever by a symbolist's afternoon
from November and the winter's stripping chill,
yet here he lounges in an abstract of boxwood
and holly, under a slate-lid sky,
the black of his pelt like the soft lees of Setinum,
his horns as sweetly whorled as pinecones,
a gold annealing in the slots of his eyes.
His throat like oiled olive, his warm arms smell
not of rut and vinegar, but resin and stillness
disturbed, the hot light filtering on the beeches
and river-veins, the muddied onyx
of one hoof jinks: and if I cry
ὁ μέγας Πὰν τέθνηκεν, he will fall
like the curvetting of aspen leaves, to plain air,
the piper at the gates of sunset,
a wind-topped, tuneless reed.
But if it sang out true from Paxi to Palodes,
mourning, exultant —that voice of dying gods—
who haunts my path like a heart's missed beat,
holm-oak, stone pine, the dark stelae of cypress
glimpsed out of shot from clipped corners of yew,
whose wordless mouth reels modes of ivy in?
The little wind frets the hedges in their fading,
bellies a spider's shell-strung caul: a sibyl.
The faun in the summer of the world smiles,
too late to uninvoke, growing home.