Averill Curdy

On the Death of a Circus Elephant Electrocuted in the Initial Y

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      Because the weather of old film is Northerly

You find me as if looking through a window

            Flawed in January. How ardent your breath,

      Pent, like the gray mares of the bareback queen,

            Restless in their freight-car shunted

                  To the margins of a year early last

      Century, which opened with this minute

Of scandal and camphor, acid and shadow

            Embezzled from my death. I’m little now.

      The moon is old, the moon is a bald clown

            Peddling arthritic routines; there are nights

                  When it is not too late, and something

      Original remains, still powerful enough

To hurt you. Mumbai, Naples, Chicago,

            Your wan vitreous midnights shut like lids

      On so many incubators in torched pavilions

            Of the Midway. Between the kootch show

                  And a numerate horse, plugged-in coffers

      Performed before crowds, cow-eyed, as if

They witnessed reliquaries of blood liquefying.

            I balanced the world on my back, violent

      With chance and you called me Topsy; am I

            Only that slave to you, or else victim?

                  I was uncontaminate, unprofane as those

      Aisles of babies saved in their paradisal heat.

No sound attends my fall. I fall and I keep

            Falling, a toy Ophelia. I repeat,

      What failure or end of yours am I the dream of?

            Before the electrodes’ skinny crown,

                  Before the smoke anyone, alone,

      (I repeat) together, can watch boil

From my feet, there were your catarrhs, your

            Furtive, strangled unwrappings, vagrant lusts

      And irritations, everything (I repeat) my entrances

            Converted into one clean current of feeling:

                                    I was always that spark and apocalyptic.




“On the Death of a Circus Elephant Electrocuted in the Initial Y” first appeared in The Manchester Review (UK), Fall 2009.