The speaker begins by claiming she can never put the listener back together. Above the speaker and statue sits a blue sky, one as if out of a Greek tragedy. Not even a powerful lightning strike could create this type of disaster, she notes. The poem is notoriously full of abstruse and complicated imagery, which leave it open to myriad interpretations, although most of them center somewhat around her father. Critics have seen echoes of incest-awe in the text, but the text hardly makes the nature of the relationship explicit.
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I shall never get you put together entirely, Pieced, glued, and properly jointed. Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles Proceed from your great lips. Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle, Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other. Thirty years now I have labored To dredge the silt from your throat. I am none the wiser. Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of lysol I crawl like an ant in mourning Over the weedy acres of your brow To mend the immense skull plates and clear The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.
A blue sky out of the Oresteia Arches above us. O father, all by yourself You are pithy and historical as the Roman Forum. I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress. Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke To create such a ruin. Nights, I squat in the cornucopia Of your left ear, out of the wind, Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue. My hours are married to shadow. No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel On the blank stones of the landing. Used by permission of Alfred A. All rights reserved.
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