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Umbrian Dreams, by Charles Wright

April 12, 1998

Nothing is flat-lit and tabula rasaed in Charlottesville,

Unbriam sackcloth,

stigmata and Stabat mater,

A sleep and a death away,

Night, and a sleep and a death away--

Light's frost-fired and Byzantine here,

aureate, beehived

Falling in Heraclitean streams

Though my neighbor's maple trees.

There's nothing medieval and two-dimensional in our town,

October in full drag, Mycenaean masked and golden lobed.

Like Yeats, however, I dream of a mythic body,

Feathered and white, a landscape

horizoned and honed as an anchorite.

(Iacopo, hear me out, St. Francis, have you a word for me?)

Umbrian lightfall, lambent and ichorous, mists through my days,

As though a wound, somewhere and luminous,

flickered and went out,

Flickered and went back out--

So weightless the light, so stretched and pained,

It seems to ooze, and then not ooze, down from that one hurt.

You doubt it? Look. Put your finger there. No, there. You see?

From "Black Zodiac" by Charles Wright (Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 86 pp., $12 paper)

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