Amusements, Public      pg. 276     Anaconda

       

Among the alien corn stood Ruth in tears.
The cycle of the earth turned to famine,
she’s abandoned her home to glean food
off foreign soil. A snake shedding skin:
sometimes the only option is to start again.

At an amusement park, a child sits
atop a wooden horse. Her forced smile belies the caption:
The Merry-Go-Round Makes Everyone Happy
—not a reaction to the repeated song, or dizziness,
but to the image on the opposite page:

Brazilian Natives Carry a Captured Anaconda. 
This massive reptile threads through the arms
of four loin-clothed men. A fifth man
hoists the heavy tail to his shoulder, has trouble.
Anabasis—an expedition from coastline

to interior of a country—rarely a straight line.
To search for food, to avoid predators, the four-eyed fish
swims with its vision bisected—on top, the air;
beneath, the water. Copper, zinc
smelted in Anaconda, Montana. Alchemy

complements astrology. Ruled by metals,
ruled by planets—the priestess of Python
rests on the cleft of the Sibylline Rock, sings
her predictions. How accurate are horoscopes:
a bloodletting ceremony (See: anemia),

the splattered papers are burned
until the Vision Serpent appears, or the patient
dies. Long ago the earth was dry, it shattered
—a clay pot. Then the flood came.
A boat was built. Rivers rose. Under the overflow

grew a plant called The Old Man Becomes
a Young Man
. Once, a man held this plant—
lost it to a snake. Still, he returned to the land
of his mother, grandmother. Found his home
in ruins. His family, in dust.


Home      pg. 3500     Honduras

       

On page three-five-hundred, a bird
with a dark pack strapped to its back,
not a pack, really, a tiny tube:
a candle, or dynamite without a fuse,
which is fascinating, this spark, this match-

less regression from today to the Ark.
News from the bird that measured the weather:
The water—high above the tree-tops, rising
like the future.
 No, that’s the past. Back, forth—
antediluvian to ageless. Why

does the desire to return home
burn more than a machine-gun bullet
to the breast, shrapnel in the leg? Home
is a prime number: e.g., seventy-one. One-
hundred-thousand-three homing pigeons

were used in World War I. The French
used pigeons, Cher Ami, the Germans
had hawks to catch the pigeons. This bird,
caught on this page, on a wooden perch,
motionless between homicide and Honduras.

Its beak points to hominy—
the pioneer families’ favorite dish.
Homo Sapiens (See: races of man). The speed
of progress: pigeons to pagers, smoke-
signals to cell phones. A man

walks down the street, talks into his palm.
Psalms, the homily—a fashionable lesson:
when killing’s an accident, it’s right,
it’s justifiable. This string of thought winds
around the world, the suffocating winds

of the equator. Also homonyms: pray and prey.
The Spanish landed in Honduras, named it
Depths. Circled its shores, searched
for shallow waters to drop their anchor
in the New World, in this, their new home.