The Film Orchard

Movies were projected continually against the dull bark of trees. We all went down; our boots stirred little eddies in the ash. Everything was completely silent. In the flickering half-light I could see my hands and others’ faces illuminated in brief, smudged flashes. It was like a procession, but it was not a procession. We had somewhere else to go, to be. Meanwhile the orchard was drinking us in, a dusky milk. We walked all night. I couldn’t hear my heart or the pulse of my breath. It’s possible the dead were nearby, bundled into the thick coats we call Time. Or we were brides and, thus, showered in beauty. I don’t recall what we carried. We never reached for the fruit that hung, dark and heavy, from the low strobed boughs.

Museum of Cloves

I thought Zanzibar. I thought, the dhows in that ancient harbor, lamb laved in its khorma. But it was the museum of the cloven: the torn, the beheaded caught in their partial gestures. I couldn’t tell whether the bodies were wax or flesh. They seemed curiously light, as if rivers had washed through them. I wanted history, an aromatic cartouche, some dab of honey, cardamom. I heard nothing but my own red breathing. In the furthest gallery I sensed a nation, invisible, studying me, its flickering eye-tongue silent like crushed bells. I caught a whiff of something warm and sharp, tempered like a blade. Captain me, I murmured to the absent dead. I understood I was not in danger, and then I was. Outside, twilight gathered its white robe, robbing every nest. Nothing grazes here, I’d read. I leaned down, to where a river went on reflecting strange stars. As an archives, the breath knows every pulse and chemistry. Little bud, complete me. Cloister this forked blood. I want to see the empire tasted, I want a flame to lick it broken, a field divided exactly from love’s true bone. 

G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are The Arcadia Project:  North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012), co-edited with Joshua Corey, and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013).  BOA Editions will release a long poem, Testament, in 2015.  Waldrep lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.