Witness and Aftershock

It’s spring again, afternoon by now.
I see glass, so much glass; I see it
everywhere, and so much of it’s hot
like it’s come from the blowtube,
rubbery and red.  The bubble’s gone
too big and blown itself everywhere.
We’ll never fix it.
No one will ever succeed in calling
the future up.
The roof of the opera house is on
the floor.  I saw the lintel of the house
across the street—a glassen sidelong
mask of worked camellias—
shudder, then the house contract,
closing the jamb in on itself, and
the flowered transom shot out
of its frame and blew across
the street.
Life is a series of eleven-second bits.
Everyone living is at the wharf.
Glass is afire, flying, falling down.
There’s a gash in my head; it’s
singing, like glass does before it
Awake, I’m putting bricks
in the pockets of my robe, calling
for Joshua, calling Victoria.
This is the coming of Truth,
she said; that’s almost the last
I remember.  Truth! Truth!
Joshy shouted, in horror, like the
truth had come from beyond in a wave
and would flatten the world at last
and all unlovely.
Truth, the god of war
and hater of the upright beam and
the crosswise rafter, had come!
Truth, like the breaker of glass—
but hasn’t truth been under our feet
and hung before our eyes since forever,
common and colorless as the air?
No, it’s the shapes of truth
that matter, and the coming of those
and their passing, and the great terror
they always bring.
I see a severed candlestick.
I cannot see the bay.
I am carrying a baby who was out,
sooty, walking along through wreckage.
I remember Vicky’s hair, her husband’s
thick throat; also that last night
the carrion flower bloomed in the
greenhouse, stenching the air like
a dead dog’s flesh; we couldn’t
stand it. There was no moon.
And now there’s black and red
I am bleeding on the child, stumbling
a way downhill towards the sirens
at last.
Someone’s photo album’s been
kicked down the street—the street’s
been kicked down the street.
Roofs are down.  My sister’s missing.
And there are pictures of somebody’s
family thrown everywhere on the
sudden rubbish.
I am walking down a carbon path
which is belabored with the walls
of homes; walking fallingly and
piecemeal, carrying a child on a
jackknife rumble of a road which has
been strewn with the faces
of people I may have been.

  --Richard Ronan
  from Narratives from America
(Port Townsend:  Dragon Gate Press, Inc., 1982)