After-Play

We have drained the metaphors of magic-

Angels playing peek-a-boo in nimbo-

Cumulus, fighting over forks of fire,

Mermaids lacing their hair in seaweed crowns.

Drifted from algae-drenched Atlantis towns;

The gnomes, lugging their dark gold, are buried,

Jack Frost melted, the sandman put to sleep.

Still, you sit with me, watching for game,

Those who float around the room have assumed

Accustomed roles: the hard nose, the comic,

The hysterical wife, the cool addict:

We have seen through their metamorphosis,

The japanese butterfly intrigues us

More than they-fine shimmering purple silk.

I’m not certain you want any answers:

They would not be formulae for planting

Mushrooms, nor how to baste a better gown

For walking late along the river banks

Many are the ways for catching rodents,

Seducing lovers, soliciting friends

They do not concern us: all are written.

The sperm does not stand upon his tail and laugh,

The egg does not whirl primly not proudly

Inviting bouquets in pre-urterine

Gardens cool with moon-dew, warm with pink suns;

A tired climb up a DNA stair,

Precise and circular, has supervened:

The bee builds his hive, sucks it dry, and dies.

At midnight, professors star at the starlight,

Lens upon lens simplifies the pattern:

There is no Hercules, no snake to kill,

The seven dancing sisters atoms

Beating time against the dull drum of chance

The universeĀ revolves about a star

Itself wandering aimlessly and dark

Yet here you sit alive upon the lounge

Not quite tipsy, the hostess with the glass,

Acting as if someone sat between us

The way you careless the sofa’s fine fur,

That’s no game – you do not know you do it,

Some myth you never knew, keeps teaching you

To step out of the play-shine by your own light.

Ben McKulik, August 25th 1978

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