Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MANOKWARI, IRIAN JAYA; IN MEMORIAM, ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, by KAREN SWENSON



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MANOKWARI, IRIAN JAYA; IN MEMORIAM, ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dangling rainbows of skipjack swing
Last Line: Of notes, a little twilight music.
Subject(s): Evolution; Indonesia; Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823-1913); Dutch East Indies


Dangling rainbows of skipjack swing
from poles on shoulders of peddlers.
Housewives with crossed arms breathe the cool
morning at their open, hill-perched doors.

Calling selamat to them softly,
I look from road to the blue, calm bay -
first harbor of Dutch missionaries,
Wallace's fever-misted anchorage.

Outriggers ride, water striders at rest;
the monthly freighter drowses at the pier.
Above, beyond its barren spars, the Arfak
Mountains blue horizons burdened with cloud.

I turn from sun into an apse of jungle.
The path, a century of leaves makes spongy
footing, is hung with bare
thread-tapestries, a spider crouched in each.

As Darwin traced our sandy prints backward from
shore into water, Wallace, looking forward,
tracked our spoor of animal graves to
the future - animals we've sung and painted.

Listen. A pair of fantails,
wings lost in green domes, drop triads
of clarinet notes, globes that plummet air
plangent in the jungle silence.

A bare beginning of a melody which, beyond
the curtain of leaves in the man-made
kingdom, Mozart might have played, a grace
of notes, a little twilight music.





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