Olyver Currant: May by G.M. Palmer

In Springtime, the only pretty ring time,
birds fly round and round mulberry gardens
like children braiding a Maypole, spinning
in seeming abandon, fleeing cats’ teeth
and claws, lurking lowly beneath bushes,
silent and without the warning of bells,
teeth and talons clutch in deadly rustle
of golden eyes, golden leaves, and golden claws,
smeared now with feathery blood that drips slow,
leaving tell-tale trails of death and of life,
the struggle that continues as birds sing
and a vulture looms, in the warm May sun.

The feathers bleach in the light of the sun,
turned from colors like bright flowers by time
into a grey-white absence of all life,
a process at once quick moving and slow,
colors ravaged by time’s deadly sharp claws,
tearing into feathered throats that once would sing,
breaking brittle bones that were once spinning
in ballet slippers or tending gardens;
time slips in, and with a quiet rustle
strips golden leaves off of aging bushes,
takes bite and tear from terrifying teeth,
and with rust and with cracks, silences bells.

I am awakened by the ringing bells
of the morning and the shining of the bright sun,
drying the Spring dew off of the bushes,
that in the wind outside my room rustle
softly against the rails of my gardens.
I stumble out of bed to brush my teeth,
plodding through the motions of my new life,
finally settled after four months’ time
on this cold globe, that, while slowly spinning
does not relieve my mind from the steel claws
of your memory. This year moves too slow.
Outside my window I hear a bird sing.



As I listen to this small swallow sing
I also hear the silence of the bells
as the morning’s ringers cease their loud claws,
their clappers that send brass edges spinning
to mark the regularity of time,
tolling out in clear tones, solid and slow
notes that send birds flying from their bushes
into the light of the bright morning sun
that brings to the growing world warmth and life,
making possible jungles and gardens
that, by their branches’ small subtle rustle,
betray and reveal hungry housecats’ teeth.

I open my eyes. Get up. Brush my teeth,
step into the shower, mumble and sing;
as I wash with soap that smells like gardens,
the sun outside is growing into life
and light, the world, being warmed by the sun,
awakens, and with a nervous rustle,
the birds sing in nests not above cats’ claws
with voices as clear and as harsh as bells
ringing, ringing, ringing in the bushes,
their high, tinny rattle keeping no time,
marking no changes of the Earth’s spinning
and guiding the cats’ advance, which is slow.

The teeth and claws though, they are not so slow.
Mewing and with feathers stuck in its teeth,
a feral cat stretches out to pass the time,
scratching its body on thorny bushes,
relaxing now that it’s silenced birds’ bells.
In its head, thoughts of slumber are spinning,
warmed by the rich black earth of the gardens;
no more will the swallow or mynah sing,
tongues and throats torn out by now sleepy claws,
the cat turns and basks in the soothing sun,
life’s destruction renewing its own life,
asleep, undisturbed by any rustle,



the animal is blind to the rustle
and deaf to the motion, quick and then slow,
warmed and made lazy by the errant sun
and with no time to raise its wily claws,
with no more sound than that with which rocks sing,
the cat, who gave no more thought to its life
than to its kill’s wife is surprised by time,
more vicious than ten thousand hellhounds’ teeth,
tearing down monstrous mountains to gardens
of stone and sand, breaking and rusting bells,
dwarfing the tallest trees like dwarf bushes;
still and motionless in the world’s spinning.

The animal’s eyes are dully spinning,
winding down as its heart stops its rustle;
in its mind, the silence of bright bird bells
is still holy. It becomes the gardens;
its teeth become the rose’s sharp thorn teeth,
its fur grows and greens into the bushes
as its body is ploughed down by the sun,
once proud and straight, its bones bleached out slow
into dust and food for worms by Lord Time,
that as birds, children, and old folks sing
sinks its teeth and sneaks its sharp, silent claws
into all things wick, jealous of all life.

Time is God, the destroyer of all life,
it is the stillpoint of all our spinning,
it is the silence that makes voices sing,
it is the eternal presence, one time
it may move light fast, another, death slow,
it dullens sharp minds and dullens sharp claws,
it sees the death of redwoods and bluebells,
it is the motion behind the rustle
of our minds and the boiling of the sun,
it devours mountains with liquid teeth,
seizing a grandfather as he gardens
and stealing a cat warm in the bushes.



I look out my window to the bushes
below, unaware of the teeming life
and death that has sown feathery cats’ teeth
that grow and bloom, fed by the earth and sun.
My wet hair is blown by the wind’s rustle
with the scent of lilies from the gardens.
As the wind blows I think I hear you sing,
my heart starts beating, my mind is spinning,
my hands are heavy and fragile like bells;
the truth of your absence is thick, and slow
in coming. I have tried to fight off time,
only leaving myself bare to its claws.

As my memory is maimed by the claws
of time, I look down over the bushes,
beneath leaves, and through branches to the slow
disintegration of the cat. Gold bells
tinkle and dong in the distance, spinning
sides an annunciation of church time
on a Sunday morning bit through with teeth
dark and thick in the dancing sky. Its life
will soon exchange itself as the rains sing,
the May clouds will shuffle, dance, and rustle
in violent obfuscation of the sun,
feeding the hearty gold of my gardens.

As God, through the wind and water, gardens,
the Earth grips the body with hidden claws,
planting it unnoticed in the rustle
of the rain and the songs that the clouds sing,
which are beautiful and full of fresh life
and pungence when tempered by the great sun.
The motions of the Earth are staid and slow,
feeding birds, feeding cats, and feeding bushes,
each devoured by different sets of teeth,
eaten as the Earth sits, slowly spinning
in hammered out fashion, just like the bells
that call out Sunday morning meeting time.

I spend too much time trapped in these gardens,
spinning widows’ tales and sowing false teeth,
tied to the bushes and ignoring bells’
rustle which would wake me from my mind’s claws.
In the slow morning, choirs come to life;
far off, they sing bright shining as the sun.

About G.M. Palmer