Elegies for Sister Satan: Third Elegy

The clock is a fiction, dear Sister,
yet we live within it,
Sister, its arms are ours,
and the fiction is as real
as a rose in the steel dust
and you will recall, dear Sister,
that each of us is the sum
of the two preceding numbers
in the talismanic series
and that this ever expanding,
radiant and more than perfect
spiral will swallow us
so said– was it Zoroaster –
from a distant cliff
his spider-arms outstretched
on the face of a death’s-head clock.
And it is there
within the span of those arms
that we recall
what we were not.
We were not what we thought
to be and to become
not the architects of desire
not the thieves of fire
nor gardeners nor plumbers
nor workers in steel,
only the painted puppets
of parallel lives, only
the uninvited guests– ghosts –
at the beggars’ banquet.
Elegy for whom or for what?
We watched the frothing tide
gather time in
and it meant nothing
at all to us then
or at most some spare thing
that could not be freely said,
a wound of salt-laced water
and a gasping
mouthful of sand,
while deaf to those measures
which draw us together.
Other works by Michael Palmer ...