108 Degrees

Gabriel Olearnik

  No word was given me, no legend 
   no ringing play, no tapestry of the coming time. 
   I did not know my name and of all things 
   there was only the lapping light, the sword and 
   sharp sand beneath my feet. 

The light is red thread on the clock 
4:48. Incomplete--an hour of wet 
salts and seven men murmuring. 
This ward has no name. This hour has no name. 
The clock is patient, its stern lines static, fixed. 

   I whetted the sword with apples 
   washed the blade in the leaping waters 
   and the hilt budded forth in peachflower, 
   the steel light trembled and was still. 

The walls are blank crosses. 
Their patience! They wait, chained by a gallows drip, 
caught by needles. Here there is a flutter of a nylon veil 
and the time remains. My throat wet with life. 

   Every heart is a dark forest. 
   I press the sand to stand, gaze beyond the beachhead 
   on arbors, halls of velvet greenness, 
   tight tangles of Northern trees 
   there, to shape princely deeds, to fight with dragons.