Akathleptos, Arthur Durkee

Spirit Hunter (Hikwsi Maakya), three views, John Brosio

Audio for Akathleptos


Slow humming in the air as the finger writes
along the seam of a bag to close its contents in.
Musical tones that hum in the mind’s ear
long past the recording’s end. Ringing stillness.
Piercing bell tone that fills the mind, crystallizing
quiet nothing. A bell ringing in an empty sky.

Connections: Driving a two-lane back road, glimpse
at the edge of field between wood thicket and tall dry
cornstalks, buck deer lifts many-pronged head to watch.
A single antler found in the lawn under the window.
Something hums behind that liquid eye. Antlered gods
watch from autumn browns and greens the moon rise.

Nights dreamt under desert stars, immense sky pulling
you out of sleep into floating vertigo: falling up
into asterisms thick as milk, bright enough to see the trail.
See other suns laved with wanderers. Disk of skydust.
Stars so close to high-desert camp you can hear them hiss.
Mountain itself vibrating, gong struck by solar wind.

Days of blood and sand, beating fists on indifferent
granite slabs till they’re streaked with drying iron rust.
Implacable silence of stone reply. There is no why.
Broken on an altar cancered with flowering lichen,
poison flask of grey silence, questioned, unanswered.
Mute tenacity to break down walls that won’t be.

These smaller mysteries are all we can obtain.
Slow catechism of local spirits, determined and listed.
The largest truth we know, love is all,
compasses only a piece of the boat. Rocking across rivers.
One night, doors opened, light poured out over
lintels made of translucent ivory carved with runes, names,

the long list of those who had passed before. A threshold
radiant with actinic epiphany. A door opens, a door closes.
And forget again, containered back into pitted shells of brain,
blood, internal living ivory not yet fossilized with patience.
Pans too small to hold much water. There for the filling,
easily overflowed. Bread loaf made from the memory of wet.

Arthur Durkee

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