Poverty

George Touloupas
 


And your name, poverty.

Green land of mist & rain
soft light on white skin
watery line for the eye
to rest upon
a crucifixion
white clay, bone china
and always those gray marks
on the back of the hand
to remind me of poverty
that is, your name.

Memory is this animal
vulnerable, nocturnal
a dark grazer of stray thoughts
leaves on a forest path.

Pale words come out of your mouth
          pale   green    moths
                  attracted
               to some light
and all this whiteness  odourless    pure
          whiteness   of     poverty

And the shape of  the  ear  that  speaks
              c o m p a s s i o n

[   And in thy mind beauty, O Artemis,
               as of mountain lakes in the dawn.
     Foam and silk are thy fingers,
                                   Kuanon,
     and the long suavity of her movings,
                  willow and olive reflected…             ]

… and it is not for nothing that
            chrysalides mate in the air…

Stone (Petra) the name of the village
and the young maid (Zoe) would
visit in June (Kledon) the old stone well
to fish in the reflections the face –
the countenance – of her beloved one –
yet to be met.
And she would have to flee, a young
married lady, to a foreign land and
learn the language and make a living knitting
– such a wonder! – five-fingered mittens for
the Bulgarian ladies.
And she would bear children & lose children
& her brothers all killed & her husband
& the armies coming & going leaving
the land waste.

And she would be 87 and sing love songs
& dance & talk in that speech that was
older than Stone (Petra), in that voice that
was as old as Greece.
And she did not die of old age but
falling to the ground.
Z o e    ( L i f e )  was her name 
               l i f e  &  d e a t h   don’t really matter but
                         T i m e  &  S p a c e  !
And she told me once:
        Touka nema gayda
                             tam na gourata
no bagpipe to look for here
                    there, high up in the mountains

And the sound comes out of the bagpipe
        and speaks of Zoe
               and the generosity of beasts
                      and the magical arts of birds
And you speak your name
that is, poverty.
 
 

[“And in thy mind beauty, O Artemis…”
Ezra Pound, Canto CX (The Cantos of Ezra Pound,
Faber & Faber, 1975). ]


George Touloupas


Kater Murr's Press, Piraeus Series, 1999.
Copyright © George Touloupas, 1999