Leo Yankevich Poems
Apollo’s Archaic Torso
(after the German of Rainer Maria Rilke)
We have no knowledge of his ancient brow
where pippins ripen. Yet his torso gleams,
reflecting the candela, luminous streams
that yet pour from his gaze, his glance’s glow
still radiant, though dimmed. If not, his bare
breast would not blind you in the silent turn
of hip and thighs, a smile not flash and burn
through groins, his genitals not ever glare.
If not, this stone would seem deformed and small,
the light beneath his shoulder’s sudden fall
not seem a preying panther’s shimmering mane, ...
Some nights are never-ending hells
for these old veterans in our care.
We do not hand out pills, but shells,
as out of battlefields they stare
from over sixty years ago
on far-off Guam or Guadalcanal.
With trembling hands they try to show
how the bravest or youngest fell.
We console them with a cold cup,