Elegy Asking That it be the Last
for Ingrid Erhardt, 1951-1971
There’s a bird the color of mustard. The bird
Is held in a black glove. This bird
Has a worm in its heart.
Inside the heart of the worm there's
A green passage of blood.
The bird is a linnet.
The glove is worn by a Prince. There's a horse
Under him. It is another century: things are
Not better or worse. The horse is chestnut,
Is moving its bowels while standing in the surf.
The cliffs behind him are dark. It is
The coast of Scotland. It's winter.
Surrounding the Prince and also on horses are men
Who are giant; they are dressed in furs.
There's ice forming in their beards. Each is
A chieftain. They are the Prince's heavy protection.
They are drunk, these men who are laughing
At the linnet with a worm in its heart.
This is a world set apart from ours. It is not!
by Norman Dubie
from The Mercy Sent: Collected and New Poems
Copper Canyon Press, 2001