Three Kings


Clouds break across the shoulder of the plateau
and rush a tide of white into the canyon
as the sky turns swift to grey above and thickens
out the light. Through the window, you see them –

three ghost-grey Eucalypts plucked by squalls –  
a haunting of dead kings, come to keen their grief
at your door – spines bending towards the deck,
crowns pitching back then down toward you,

hands cast up to tear out hair or gouge out perhaps
a guilty eye. A pane of glass is all that stands between
you and the sky and if a spine let go you might yet
have the time to duck under the table 

or to sit wild-eyed and let the pane break
across your gaze and gouge you into landscape,
leave you pinned between the hardwood
and the gums now howling in the storm:

here- old and toothless Lear, all howl and ‘never, never’
there- old Hamlet, ghost of ghosts, jealous as a son,
here- old Laius, offering eyes as tithe at Delphi,
all lost in their regrets.

And in the canyon down below, a thousand wooden arms
are cast about, liquid as anemones, at the bottom of a sea
now flooding heavy as the belly of the sky
splits and thunders.

You wonder what it would take to move a landscape,
to cleave a cliff-face from the rock,
to break the thing in you that turned to stone
and though you know come morning,

the storm will pass you over, the flood
will drown into the soil, you still beg these three-
three kings of grief, three ghosts all choked
and strangled by your one platonic line,

to thread their way, their grey and thundered way
                                     from this world to the next.

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