Poem 77 ± August 20, 2015

Julian Gewirtz
Psyche in Bed

To the god. Tonight
there are no visitors.

Stormclouds rise
over the near mountains, beyond

the finch-dense forest.
For nine and ninefold nights

I have waited
in darkness, lulled

only by wind-whine—
unmoving, bedded, mind-whir

muddles and buzzes
into body. From between

teeth seeps forth
a strange issue,

dries linen-white, paler
than graying face.

Sores collapse open

skin-strata, shallow
basins, suppurated

sediment. Nerve-sensed
I survey the subsidence—

does blood slow
and flow around the wound?

Silt crumbles, heats,
as tubers sprout through

the eschar, onion-stalks
of bone, pungent. The blighted

tendons. Each night
hands return to rub

limbs with damp cloths
of camphor, but I know

my stench persists. Grows
the sullens like slow-flowing

moonwater. Brackish,
blackening, the unrushing

slough, breeding
like rancid trout roe, dug

into gravel redds. Eels
draw close, dazed. Residue

of river, place where streaming
stops. Tawny trace. Place

where water slows, and flow
is fallow. Have I fallen?

My shocked knees molder
and fold. My legs

lapse. I will not leave.

At times I vision
a shaded window.
The voice-veil

with greened gaze
avers: no grove
can grow on this hillock,

and if below it
somewhere flow

they are locked
in a rock-drum,
deep and unrising.

And what fate,
spun from a frayed
thread uncut

by the rust-knife,
will sphere me to stay
if Eros does not—?

Bright: a begonia blooms. Yolky calyx whorls
below the twisted stigmas. Petalless yellow: the sepals.

of grain-sand and light.
The love-wind, careless,

carrying a little
of chaff and seed, lifting
what is too
heavy. It came

to pass. Day
plunged into the far massif,
into the deepening

where by my hands
you were and were,

hand-flail’s whining
unsettles the scale-shells,
then fan to the thresh-pile
vans of air-holding

the color of your hair
husk-grey. I was given
no tools. Raised my hands
to let your name rise . . .

From height-
over-the-mountain shadows,
the winds, thinned-warm,

startle cool eddies into
dry-spooled air,
unweaving the grain,

the half-crazed scatter of field-fray,

hazed. Rainclouds
follow the crossing
currents. Streaming
from the sky’s raised face.

Were you there, resting
on the low hay-bed,
looking toward me as I left

as a last breeze lazed
the wooden hold in
the granary.
What remains is only

cold and golden.

Julian GewirtzJulian Gewirtz was born in New Haven, CT. He was a Harvard undergraduate and is currently pursing a doctorate in history at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, The New Republic, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, and The Yale Review, among other publications. His critical writing has been published by The Economist, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.

This poem was previously published in The Harvard Advocate.