trout [ 9 ] October 2001
Stephen Oliver [ 1, 2, 3 ]

T H E   G R E A T   U N S A Y I N G

And the Lord came down to see the city and
a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven
Genesis 11: 4

Farther off, came lightning silent and unanswering,
the tower that emerged from between the flashes - solid
as an after-image, and then again, with each
intermittent opening out of darkness, the figure enlarged,
advanced, message-bearer, refugee from a tongue-
tied past, a bronze shield hanging off the darkened wrist.
He brought with him, and in the turbulence that
surrounded him, memories of words knotted along the
rope of language, the iron roar of the rabble rising
and falling, the flayed backs of the orators retreating.
Every portal round the tower consonantal, every window
an enjambment, the noise rose, a drowning roar -
unstoppable, even under the abstract gaze of the linguists;
voices shrieked back into primal colour - every
portal seemed a stopped-up mouth that spiralled the honey-
combed tower; and this monument, curled into a ramís
horn became vortex and blasphemy. Temple or tower,
he lamented what once had stood shaped to cup hand
and mind holy as a grail. Only his closeness now fathomed
the air, tumbrels of boiling cloud carried the speech,
upon whose face contorted words, and every word a leech.

[from True North, a work in progress]




© 2001 Trout &
Stephen Oliver