A poem a day in April from Rutgers English PhD students and friends.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

ii. Secondary Constructions

Somewhere in the capital of Lima,
In a bank that they’ve turned into a museum,
Rests a portrait of Túpac Amaru,
The last native sovereign of the Incan Empire.
We saw it one afternoon, maybe our third.
I can’t quite remember when because the forever fog
That clung to the city broke any sense of sequentiality,
Transforming day into days into daze.
The orchestral mass of commanding clouds that
Circulate in the sky behind him are
Cartoonish and betray the legacy of the king.
The last act of assimilation to the state is always
Aesthetic: portraits, pictures, songs, and
Poems. Walter Scott writes of a similar fallen patriarch,
This one fictional,
An enthusiast for the wrong cause,
Whose portrait hangs like a footnote.
The ardent character of the unfortunate Chief
Represented in paint is a cold contrast to his final wish
To have his head placed on a spike
Facing north so that he might, even after death,
Glimpse the blue hills of his forgotten fatherland.
Moritur, et moriens dulces, reminiscitur Argos.
[Dies and dying thinks of dear Argos.]
He who dies and is dying also thinks.
The present indicative withholding the closure of the past
Tense. The past not yet foreclosed to a promenading present.
That same afternoon—maybe?—we walked along
Esplanades, like supine soldiers,
Leading to an unspecified somewhere, somewhen.

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