16 September 2010

Broken-Face Gargoyles

All I can give you is broken-face gargoyles.
It is too early to sing and dance at funerals,
Though I can whisper to you I am looking for an undertaker humming
a lullaby and throwing his feet in a swift and mystic buck-and-wing,
now you see it and now you don't.

Fish to swim a pool in your garden flashing a speckled silver,
A basket of wine-saps filling your room with flame-dark for your eyes
and the tang of valley orchards for your nose,
Such a beautiful pail of fish, such a beautiful peck of apples, I cannot
bring you now.
It is too early and I am not footloose yet.

I shall come in the night when I come with a hammer and saw.
I shall come near your window, where you look out when your eyes
open in the morning,
And there I shall slam together bird-houses and bird-baths
for wing-loose wrens and hummers to live in, birds with yellow
wing tips to blur and buzz soft all summer,
So I shall make little fool homes with doors, always open doors for all
and each to run away when they want to.
I shall come just like that even though now it is early and I am not yet
Even though I am still looking for an undertaker with a raw,
wind-bitten face and a dance in his feet.
I make a date with you (put it down) for six o'clock in the evening
a thousand years from now.

All I can give you now is broken-face gargoyles.
All I can give you now is a double gorilla head with two fish mouths
and four eagle eyes hooked on a street wall, spouting water
and looking two ways to the ends of the street for the new people,
the young strangers, coming, coming, always coming.

It is early.
I shall yet be footloose.

Carl Sandburg, "Broken-Face Gargoyles" (in Smoke and Steel )