Friday, February 19, 2010

Letter From Charles Simic

The missing ones are coming home. They arrive without luggage. Some are wearing robes made from the feathers of rare birds, the veined shells of insects. Some come by hearse, clutching the chrome coffin rails, some by carriages with drivers waving whips lovingly crafted from human skin. The Red K watches them via video link in a forest marked for old growth logging. How quietly they come. Their families wait with wreaths and childhood artifacts. The soundtrack to their return is Bulgarian mouth music and sobbing. Some are crawling, their knees worn down like those of pilgrims on Croagh Patrick. Some appear more youthful now than when they went out of the world. The Red K stares at the screen, his hands like mating spiders. The missing ones know every name in the cemetery of their absence. They file through cobbled lanes, down major highways, through fields where the polished blood plums of the eyes of cattle grow wide and ripe with welcome. The Red K can’t stand it. He climbs down into saffron thistles, the shirt he fashioned from Peter Redgrove's hair prickling his skin. The missing are home. Cold Case files open like moonflowers, releasing the Pollen of Remembrance. A strummed autoharp in Dublin is heard as a bouzouki on a beach in Crete. The Red K scribbles into a water bowl. Dust in the Great Sandy Desert rises as signals from the boned maplines of creek beds. The missing stumble, fall and rise. They sing and pray. The Red K thumbs the uncut pages of their stories, his white hair on fire at the edges, his rope sandals taking root in hostile earth.

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