Stage Direction

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It is a shabby backdrop of bright stars:
one of the small interstices of time:
the worn out north star northward, and Orion
to westward spread in ruined light. Eastward,
the other stars disposed, — or indisposed; —
x-ward or y-ward, the sick sun inflamed;
and all his drunken planets growing pale.
We watch them, and our watching is this hour.

It is a stage of ether, without space, —
a space of limbo without time, —
a faceless clock that never strikes;

and it is bloodstream at its priestlike task, —
the indeterminate and determined heart,
that beats, and beats, and does not know it beats.

Here the dark synapse between nerve and nerve;
the void, between two atoms in the brain;
darkness, without term or form, that sinks
between two thoughts.

  Here we have sounded, angel! —
O angel soul, O memory of man! —
And felt the nothing that sustains our wings.
And here have seen the catalogue of things —
All in the maelstrom of the limbo caught,
and whirled concentric to the funnel’s end,
sans number, and sans meaning, and sans purpose;
the lack of meaning has a heart-beat, and
the lack of number wears a cloak of stars.

© Conrad Aiken