scissoring and mending
—James Merrill, “Yannina”
Left on an uncleared restaurant table
scrawled on a cocktail napkin: FABLE.
Struggling to surface from a dream,
something keeps trying to get through.
Things are either what they seem
or else the opposite. The same
word can split and float apart.
Lord of the crossroads, oh Eshu,
since you look both ways, can you see
the many morphing into one
and the one scattering again?
The veil between the worlds is thin.
Something contrives to scramble through
a threshold garbled into myth.
In my notebook I make out
sensible little sister scrawled—
my writing, but I never wrote
those three words. From some other sphere
they took up mystic residence,
offering a Delphic sense
I laboriously decode.
The myth of dream, the truth of myth—
something keeps trying to break through.
And I wake up, my love, and turn to you.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 3, on page 24
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