the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




FOUR WORKS
BY MICHAEL R. BURCH

WHAT THE POET SEES

What the poet sees,
he sees as a swimmer underwater,
watching the shoreline blur,
sees through his breath's weightless bubbles . . .

Both worlds grow obscure.

Warming Her Pearls

Warming her pearls, her breasts
gleam like anachronisms . . .
her belly is a bit rotund . . .

she might have stepped out of a Rubens.

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THE LOCKER


All the hollow clamor has died
and what was contained,
removed,

reproved
adulation or sentiment,
left with the pungent darkness

as remembered as the sudden light.

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VIOLETS

Once, only once,
when the sun caught your hair
in a certain slant of light

and you laughed,
abruptly demure,
fragrant among violets,

suddenly,
I knew:
everything had changed . . .

and as you braided your hair
into long bluish plaits
the shadows empurpled,

the dragonflies'
last darting feints
dissolving mid-air . . .

we watched the sun's long glide
into evening,
knowing and unknowing . . .

O, how the illusions of love
await us in the commonplace
and rare

and frequent even our memorable days.

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PAN

. . . Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we lose ourselves . . .

. . . once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles . . .

. . . where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss . . .

. . . hangs weeping gently downward, maidens' hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs . . .

. . . that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees . . .

. . . we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers . . .

. . . of voices of the wolves' tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams' soft, windy vowels . . .