Down from another planet they have settled to mend
The Hampton Institute banisters. They wear bow ties and braces.
The flutings they polish with a polished hand.
Wingless, they build and repair
The mansions of what we have thought to be our inheritance.
Caution and candor they labor to maintain.
They are out of phase. I prepare
To burn all gentle structures, greek or thatch,
Under the masterful torch of my president here and abroad,
Till stubble outsmolders, and muslim and buddhist crack
In the orbit of kiln.
To some calm Christian plant will drift,
To where they are mending their mansions, beside of whose doors
They are standing at ease, they are lifting the fans
Of unburdenable wings.
Josephine Miles, “[Down from another planet they have settled to mend]” from Kinds of Affection. Copyright © 1967 by Josephine Miles. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Kinds of Affection (Wesleyan University Press, 1967)