A mass of metal glows within the nest,
intensely densely yellow-cored and cold,
and roosting orange-footed, warm of breast,
the mutant goose that laid those eggs of gold.
A solemn guardian presents your choice:
Now which, he asks, would you prefer to own –
will this enchanted goose make you rejoice,
or would you rather have the stuff she’s grown?
And even though the bird requires care
beyond the vigilance that metal needs,
the chooser every time and anywhere
will gravitate to treasure that self-breeds.
So don’t you think selection is absurd
when product over process is preferred?
If I were superstitious, I’d stay home
today, and hide in bed or maybe work,
and I might try to modify a poem,
and I’d be thinking someone is a jerk:
a grouchy person from my past who’d say
(already said) the world is shot and hope
is dead, the earthquake happens Saturday,
and then retreat to smoke more kushy dope.
But 13 is a number I adore,
and Friday is the best day of the week.
I still believe in truth and not much more.
I look within for most of what I seek.
I may be lucky; certainly I’m here.
As far as I can see, the coast is clear.
The messenger assigned to comb the shore,
and carefully select the perfect sand,
invested half an eon in the chore,
and filled the holy bucket with her hand
until she had the quantity she sought,
and bore it to the purifying flame,
and while it cooked to clarity, she wrought
from Lilith’s rib a handle and a frame.
As grains of sugar melt to caramel,
so golden sand was altered by the heat,
until it flowed translucent in a spell
of metamorphosis. And to complete
the magic gift, she mined for mercury,
pursuing metal slippery and round.
She caught it in its toxic levity
and laid it superficially profound
to make a backing silvery and bright,
so face of glass admits the eye to see
and back the basis sends the endless light,
reiterating like eternity.
She made the mirror, woman’s task and tool,
and yet the patent-holder is Semuel.
Once upon a time a story made
by some creative poet literal,
explained so thoroughly it didn’t fade –
it fit so well it seemed to say it all.
And so that story passed from mouth to ear,
until another maker wrote it out.
Substantial now, it blossomed into clear
significance, suppressing sceptic doubt,
engaging confidence and superstition,
compelling vehemence and firm belief,
insinuating into a tradition,
proportioning and modifying grief,
and dooming all its followers to fail,
for it was never other than a tale.
The man is sky; the woman is the earth;
the night is bad and daytime is benign;
Apollo sun, his sister moon – the birth
of such ideas is obvious. Design
a unicorn, but make him male and white,
and have him ridden only by the pure.
Declare all snakes the enemy, indict
the wolf and scorpion, and grow more sure
with every year the symbols mirror real.
A fable that explains a mystery
is tellable and loaded with appeal,
supports itself with its redundancy,
imprisons thought, and sculpts each point of view
as it constructs a wall before what’s true.
Prometheus put fire at our feet.
He taught us to control its smoke and blaze.
We learned to warm the night, and cook the meat,
and fire pots, and so evolved a ways.
Then someone sometime stumbled on the wheel –
geometry that helped us stumble less.
Like fire it took off with huge appeal
and blazed us ways we couldn’t then express.
Inventions and discoveries were they
that formed the base for all our growth since then,
but I suggest those tools have had their day
and we don’t need to try their ways again.
To take us further than we’ve come before,
it’s time to matter less, and venture more.
I built a little cottage made of straw,
and then I raised an edifice of sticks.
They each accommodated natural law,
for nothing stood until I layered bricks.
I realized straw is fodder for the cud,
and sticks are food for fire’s appetite,
but what can eat a brick? It’s clayish mud
that can’t be used unless it’s fired right.
Adobe is the stuff of my abode
and mortar is the manner of its size;
together they will bear the awkward load.
I’ve learned to look with something more than eyes
at structures made of visionary tricks,
and I construct my character of bricks.