Geoffrey Morrison: Lungfish

LUNGFISH

I broke a roller-skate in the shade behind the cemetery:
Gargoyle-grotto of a garbage can, a basketball court,
The wool-grey metal backboards streaked with rust.
Drifting across the three-point line, last year’s leaves.
“Friends, this place bears the curse of Saturn.”
And in the tobaccospit ditch, the flicker of a salamander

Autumn came, and I tried to burn a salamander
In a garbage can. The season was a cemetery:
At night my telescope failed to coax out Saturn.
My friends and lovers hastened off to court.
Magician-like, I pulled a string of leaves
Out of my mouth. The doctor worried rust

Into my body, on the offchance: “Your sinuses might rust,
But this is normal.” On my mantlepiece the salamander
Nodded, then secreted his various glucoses into the leaves.
I haven’t seen him since, suspect the Sunday traffic at the cemetery.
I reread some dirty letters to a woman I used to court;
She’d written back all in metaphors: ringed (encondomed?) Saturn.

Ficino, hieromagus, tell again how Saturn
Fizzled scratchy picture post-cards of Detroit rust
Into the pockets of unshaven Divines at court,
Or boiled skeletons of bullrush salamanders
Until the embroidered reading-room went cemetery,
Shrouded the little magazines in stitched leaves.

I will say this though: when a person leaves
You know the reason why you can’t see Saturn;
“You’re there already!” or somesuch – in the cemetery
Purple prayer-flags, chains of sweets conceal the rust
On the statue of Saint Michael Salamander
(My mother’d tried to blow it up; she went to court).

And if I thought that I’d heard chamber music from the court-
yard yesterday, this morning it’s the radio of leaves.
A kettle of lungs and cinder-blackened salamanders
Is supposed, my doctor says, to ward off Saturn,
But I know better: the ball in the ring of rust
Stalls mid-passage – no points, just cemetery.

You can’t even call a half-court violation on Saturn.
The leaves pour out of the carton and rust
With the salamanderskins, twitching near the cemetery.

 

Geoffrey Morrison is from White Rock, British Columbia. He is currently a Master’s student at the University of Western Ontario, studying, among other things, the history of the book in the English Renaissance.

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