New Tower

Walking my usual track today
with my buzzing golden meadow on one hand
and on the other hand my dim and muffled wood
paved with last year’s leaves and with elder branches
ripened to mould,
while between me and that stillness is the waving green
margin of the wood, the row of maples
so much alike that only one who always walks this way
knows them apart,
I look ahead between wood and meadow, glance up
and see, reluctantly,
you, dark Tower,
looming into a segment of my clean bright sky
where lately the hawk floated.

You are in the sky but are not of the sky,
you are colonizing from earth,
you rear up out of earth but are not volcanic
with your sawtooth-segmented body plan, arrant Tower,
steel your skeleton but people your sap or blood,
you are of metal and of protoplasm compounded:
a cyborg saprophyte or
megalic cyborg myxomycote,
a clanking symbiont
led upward into the violated air
by your two waving cilia, construction cranes:
I will not deny, Tower, that you are alive,
but do not you try to deny that you are dead.

And though you vaunt yourself
as expanding our world for us
housing us for a hundred years,
poor Tower, it is not so,
and should you surround yourself with ten more like you
it would that much less be so,
for in a hundred years there will be fewer of us
and what will we want with you then?
Unlike my maples who have before them an after-old age
a life after life
transfigured to living mould,
you will grow into no honour, only needlessness:
my great-great-grandchildren may hardly have occasion
to inter you with dignity befitting your hubris now.
Skeleton thou art, to skeleton returnest.

I hope, vain Tower, the hawk will come to nest
in your laid-bare sixtieth storey
and will not be bothered by snakes there,
and will live long and well hunting the rats
who come into tenancy of your commercial space
on lower floors.
But there is no consolation in this,
no harmony, no history.

Skip to content