Treasure Island

Joanne Monte


The Light By Its Creation


from the beginning,
was meant to douse the darkness
as it did then in that year;

to sparkle the snowflake
that caught the fringe
of a child's eyelash in the Urals of winter

as it backlit
the blue in his mother's tears;

meant to splash
into the bucket of reindeer milk

as it splashed on the shoulders of peasants
toiling in the fields of revolution
that they, themselves, had plowed;

to creep without reservation
into the blacksmith's shop in Bukhara,
past old city walls;

meant to warm
the bread at supper, the bowl
of sunflower seeds; the sleeping children
in their utopia, snug in blankets
loomed with parrot and peacock feathers
and red squares. But this

had been a dream of light,
and by its creation,
meant to reveal what had been done
in darkness behind the barbed wire,
sharpened by secrets;

the brine pits where men were beaten
into their labor, ankle-deep in mire;
their hands stung by salt water
and the pull of cabbages;

meant to glisten
the sweat on their backs,
and in the beards of Old Believers
wishing to go back before the slaughter,
the forced starvation, the mass graves;

before the light
was meant to pour down the throat
of the iris, choking on its stalk;

before it poured across the canvas
on which Goya painted Saturn
Devouring His Children.

Submitted: Thursday, April 29, 2004
Edited: Saturday, April 16, 2011

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