Print on a page, salt and pepper,
Shake the words and they scatter and clot;
Flakes of history drift from a plot —
Seasonings of Saracens and Knights Templar —
Ink into incense, spice from a scepter.
Scents adhere where memory cannot;
Hold up this tablecloth to display
How canvas keeps as men decay
The aromatics of their lot.
Size is a measure and a resist;
Paint and disease are both distemper;
Then tint or taint, whose body is this
When art and flesh dissolve into the mist,
So atomized inexorably and semper?
Taste is forever reconstituted
In clouds of steam that pour into the room;
The steam of consciousness has intruded,
And out of fatality’s dehydrated doom
Of infinitesimals in presence rooted,
Our breath restores the missing weight and perfume.
NOTES for Students of English
Saracens and Knights Templar – Adversaries during the Crusades.
“Size is a measure and a resist” – In addition to its main meaning of physical dimensions, “size” means an undercoat, such as glue or varnish, used to fill in the pores of a surface to be painted. A resist is a coating.
“Paint and disease are both distemper” – “Distemper” has two main meanings: 1) an old form of paint made of water and pigment bound with glue made from animal hides; and
2) disease of animals.
Semper – Latin for “always.”; widely understood by English speakers.