“The Echo,” a Poem by Mary Jo Bang
From the Collection A Film in Which I Play Everyone
for Lucie Brock-Broido
The transient snow in a shaken globe was making me think
of the Moscovian dome, below which,
in a small private room called a cubiculum, I’d read
they had buried an empress’s golden hair.
After she’d died, after “they inquired eagerly
for the tsarina, but she was nowhere to be found.”—
From the Remotest Periods to the Present Time.
Snow becomes rain under the overhead rainforest
showerhead—drop by imbecilic drop dripping
onto a broken stone floor. About the absolute fracture
that death represents, my brain believes in what I believe:
like any animal, we make our way. Amphibian. Reptilian.
Mammalian. Some days more than others, I put away one
moment and up comes another, a replenishing
gold Virgilian bough. Outside, snow engulfs the asphalt,
the sidewalks, the drivers. In a second, it seems
a million trains enter and exit the tunnel.
The flood-protective walls rise, a tower of torn eaves
over a storm-drenched oubliette. The dome dissolves,
leaving only the ineffable portion of this time and the idea
that we who are still here have kept what was left of her.