The scarecrows shamble at night and look in the window;
The Dead hover forever over the living;
Those torn in opposition gaze in limbo;
The dark is disaffection thickened and riven.
They lurch; they flail; each gust commands a gesture
Of staggering monarchs worthy of a jester —
Sackcloth and ashes, motley ready rent;
A dumb celestial mechanic’s calisthenics
As if the lulls achieved some cheap irenics
In nightly shows of imitation lament.
Eye holes, cloth cheeks against the glass — so what?
Close-ups are old and weak tricks
That lack — lens open, sense shut —
The peripeteia that afflicts:
The ups and downs like whirlpools set on edge,
Slow turning blades that fling resentment farther
Than hearts of stone mimicking a hearth or
Rooms in Purgatory that these panes allege.
Spectral visitors will have come inside;
Moods solidify and become embedded;
And effigies out of the wind reside
Not in the breathless wedding photo but the wedded.
The sun comes up; the zombies crumple down;
A glaze of terror on the grass persists, its
Mud too thick to swim, too thin to drown;
The wind bloweth where it listeth.
NOTES for Students of English
riven – The past participle of the verb “to rive” meaning “to split.”
Sackcloth and ashes, motley ready rent – Wearing sackcloth (a coarse and uncomfortable cloth), daubing oneself with ashes, and tearing one’s clothes were the Biblical dress of mourners; motley was the traditional multicolored costume of a court jester; “rent” is the past participle of the verb “to rend” meaning “to tear”; “ready rent” means “already conveniently torn.”
A celestial mechanic’s – A play on “a mechanic” meaning a workman in a garage and celestial mechanics meaning the laws of planetary and sidereal motion.
irenics – Theology promoting Christian unity.
peripeteia – (pronounced per-i-pe-TEE-a) A sudden reversal of circumstances in a drama.
The wind bloweth where it listeth – John 3:8 King James Version – The wind blows wherever it pleases.