Jonathan Morley

Iberian Baroque

Igreja de São Francisco, Porto

Inca or Aztec, I stare granite-eyed
from an arch of grey stone. Wreaths
of stone flowers curve in the arch
whose foot is on my head.  No gold.
Other heads are set about me,
animals:  Beaver , from Labrador,
Yaguara , from the January River:
larger than mine, my head was shrunk
to allow for the enlarged earlobes.
No gold on this stone totem.
Around, beyond the chain of the arch
everything in gold: heaven,
I saw this scrawl on shields of mashed feathers
when Quetzalcoatl, feathered snake
appeared from the East as a bearded man;
heard it uttered when my father
was given a feather, chained in a circle
of dirt and made to fight snake-men
with fangs of steel: commend thy soul.

Windward, through waves of gold,
five men are beheaded, in Morocco:
one desculpe neck snapped like tulip,
two: hair in fist of turbaned warrior,
all round-eyed, staring at the gold,
futile poor martyrs of Morocco.

Somewhere diagonal, blind:
another head, not like mine
peers from the root of a tree
where are hung many ghosts,
at its tip, a woman in blue
cradling a child's body.  The head
with round cheeks of a child
supports the weight of the tree, and above
a child-tribe clusters, gold, all gold,
though some have smouldered, blackened
sad in smoke of years, and below:

the roots of the place are marble,
white like roots of a mountain
and even in its caverns
skulls are scarred like trophies
gleaming in the ink-black
chattering through the trapdoors
down to the dried-up bilges
and the shifting floor of bones.

 

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