This mask is in motion, acrawl with web building,
an eight-legged mandala, with mile stain,
dread locked in its refusal to disclose synthesis.
Over us Caryl opens a black umbrella,
exciting bat sonorities.
Together we walk the Crocodile of the Earth,
noticing Her birth hole, out of which deer are streaming.
Spider is our red transformer.
Her nets are gilded with rabbits & peccaries.
By stingray we are pressed to owl, by owl we are intact in ceiba.
My heart face undergoes hinoki to become a Noh mask for poetry:
image depth capable of inlet for the infinite,
at anticline with the mystery of fetal curl,
a masque of larval shadows: Yorunomado’s mind.
Chrysalis & rectitude of a life at rail
with the hammerhead knitted behind time,
with thinning boa surf,
with Pandora’s hexagram hex agonal with trances.
This mask is my memorial brass:
my destiny’s spored, diasporic double.
Clayton Eshleman, born in Indiana in 1935, is one of the most prolific and prominent of American poets, translators, and essayists. Retired Professor Emeritus of English at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, he is former editor of the journals Caterpillar and Sulfur. Recent publications include a translation of José Antonio Mazzotti’s Sakra Boccata with a Foreword by Raúl Zurita (Ugly Duckling, 2013). In 2014 Black Widow Press published Clayton Eshleman / The Whole Art, an anthology of essays on Eshleman’s work over the decades, edited by Stuart Kendall. In the fall of 2015, Black Widow brought out Clayton Eshleman / The Essential Poetry 1960-2015 and in 2017 Wesleyan will bring out a 900 page bilingual edition of The Complete Poetry of Aimé Césaire, co-translated with A. James Arnold. His website is www.claytoneshleman.com.