Ahuachapán, El Salvador, 1969-1974 I There is a nothing like the razor edge of air, another like the tongued pebbles, syllables of sea-wind and sea-color and another and another like the salt hide drying inward, eating in through the underbelly of the bone, the grain of the sea-eaten iron, and the open lattice of the wave. There is the nothing, moreover, at which Eurytos never quite arrives, tallying the dust with the four-finger abacus unsheathed from the flesh of his hand. Suppose, therefore, a certain concretion of order, unstable or at any rate in motion, but a certain concretion of order inherent in one of the innumerable forms of such a number. Therefore: darkness under the sunrise, darkness in the hollow of the hand; inside the spine the darkness, the darkness simmering in the glands; the rumpled blade of darkness that is lodged in every fissure of the brain; the membrane of the darkness that is always interposed between two surfaces when they close. II The bird is the color of gunmetal in sunlight, but it is midnight; the bird the color of gunmetal in sunlight is flying under the moon. There is a point at which meridians are knotted into nothing and a region into which meridians fray and intertwine, but not like mooring lines; they fray like the leading and trailing edges of wings, running from nothingness to muscle and strung from muscle back again. Listen: the sounds are the sounds of meridians trilling, meridians drawn to produce the illusion of plectrum, tuning pegs and a frame, or perhaps to produce Elijah’s audition: the hide of the silence curing, tanning, tightening into the wind. Or the sounds are the sounds of air opening up over the beak and closing over the vane, opening over the unmoving cargo slung between the spine and the talon, slung between the wingbone and the brain. III It is for nothing, yes, this manicuring, barbering, this shaving of the blade. Nothing: that is that the edge should come to nothing as continuously and cleanly and completely as it can. And the instruction is given, therefore, to the archer, sharpening the blood and straightening the vein: the same instruction that is given to the harper: Tap. Strum the muscle. Breathe. And come to nothing. IV Consider the magnetism of bone, the blood-magnetic flashfield eddying in and out of the marrow under the blood-flux in the vein. The apple is the palpable aura and hysteresis of the seed, the tissue is a proof of the polarity and necessary coldness of the bone. V In the high West there is everything it is that the high West consists of, mountains, named animals and unnamed birds, mountain water, mountain trees and mosses, and the marrow of the air inside its luminous blue bone. And the light that lies just under darkness, Artemis grazing the ice that is sea-rose under the sunset, and sea-green and sea-deep under the snow’s froth. Under the still white water the sudden fissure in the wave. Measure from the surface, measure from the light’s edge to the surface of the darkness, measure from the light’s edge to the sound. VI My Connecticut uncle stares into his manicured thumbnail, thinking of his Riviera uncle’s smoked-glass monocle. A one-eyed sun-goggle, halfway useful in the lethal roselight. Notice nevertheless it seems light drills up the nerve backward, welling underneath the retina and altering the eye’s aim. Notice that the colored cores of the air lurch up the ear, blue-gold and maroon against the blind drum. Notice in addition the others at this intersection: this one who is talking, this one who is standing in the shoes of the man who is wearing them and sitting, this one with, undeniably, a knife in his hand, this one, this one saying nothing . . . . VII Empedokles says the talon is the crystallization of the tendon, the nail is the wintered nerve. Or the antler is the arrowhead of the arrow threading the axeheads of the spine. The Aristotelian then wonders whether leather stands in similar relation to the muscle, and if sunlight might be said to shed the darkness back of the stone. VIII The mules the angels ride come slowly down the blazing passes, over the high scree and the relict ice, though the lichen-splattered boulders and the stunted timber. Slowly but as noiselessly as is proper to the progeny of sea-mares and celestial asses. Down though the gentian and the peppergrass, down through the understory dark between these trees, down through the recurved waves and into unlightable water. The mules the angels ride go to summer pasture somewhere on the seafloor or still deeper. IX Chitin and calcareous accretions no longer clothe me. Meat has eaten the fossil; the body is no longer able to moult the bone. Or as the field notes show for August: the squid has swallowed the quill; the animal has successfully attempted to incarcerate the cage. X The bud of light before the sunrise mated with the dusk, bore rock and jagged water, mated with the water, bore the tidal bore, the overfall, the spindrift and the mist. The starlight seeded earth and mist and water, germinating slime. Slime ate into the rocksalt and the darkness, the seacrust and the metamorphic stone, breeding nail and nervecord, bone marrow, molar and bones taking root in the darknesses and darknesses flowering out of the bone. Gods and men and goddesses and ghosts are grown out of this, brothers of the bark and the heartwood and the thorn, brothers of the gull and the staghorn coral, brothers of the streptococcus, the spirochete, the tiger, the albatross, the sea-spider, cousins of lime and nitrogen and rain. XI In the blood’s alluvium there are alphabets: feldspars and ores, silt-jamming the mouths, the sea’s weight or the white magmatic fire is required to read the spoor: the thumbprint on the air, the soul’s print beached on the foreshore under the slag, the spine-tracks and excavations of sea urchins climbing the high crags. XII These, therefore, are the four ages of man: pitch-black, blood-color, piss-color, colorless. After the season of iron the season of concrete and tungsten alloy and plastic, and after the season of concrete the season of horn, born in the black October, hooves and feathers hooves and feathers shudder past the tusks and navigate back between the horns.