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A Tapestry for Bayeux

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I   Recto

Over the   
   seaworthy
cavalry
   arches a   
rocketry   
   wickerwork:
involute
   laceries   
lacerate
   indigo   
altitudes,
   making a
skywritten

filigree
   into which,   
lazily,
   LCTs
sinuate,
   adjutants
next to them   
   eversharp-
eyed, among
   delicate
battleship
   umbrages   
twinkling an

anger as   
   measured as   
organdy.
   Normandy   
knitted the
   eyelets and   
yarn of these
   warriors’   
armoring—
   ringbolt and   
dungaree,
   cable and   
axletree,

tanktrack and
   ammobelt   
linking and
   opening
garlands and
   islands of   
seafoam and
   sergeantry.   
Opulent
   fretwork: on   
turquoise and   
   emerald,
red instants

accenting
   neatly a
dearth of red.   
   Gunstations   
issue it;
   vaportrails   
ease into
   smoke from it—
yellow and
   ochre and   
umber and
   sable and   
out. Or that

man at the   
   edge of the   
tapestry
   holding his   
inches of
   niggardly   
ground and his
   trumpery   
order of
   red and his   
equipage
   angled and   
dated. He.


II   Verso

Wasting no
   energy,
Time, the old   
   registrar,   
evenly
   adds to his
scrolls, rolling   
   up in them
rampage and
   echo and
hush—in each   
   influx of
surf, in each

tumble of   
   raincloud at
evening,
   action of   
seaswell and
   undertow   
rounding an
   introvert   
edge to the
   surge until,   
manhandled
   over, all
surfaces,

tapestries,
   entities
veer from the
   eye like those   
rings of lost
   yesteryears   
pooled in the
   oak of your   
memory.
   Item: one   
Normandy
   Exercise.
Muscle it

over, an
   underside   
rises: a
   raggedy   
elegant
   mess of an   
abstract: a
   rip-out of   
kidstuff and
   switchboards, where
amputee
   radio
elements,

unattached
   nervefibre   
conduits,
   openmouthed   
ureters,
   tag ends of
hamstring and   
   outrigging
ripped from their   
   unions and
nexuses
   jumble with   
undeterred

speakingtubes   
   twittering   
orders as
   random and   
angry as
   ddt’d
hornets. Step
   over a   
moment: peer
   in through this   
nutshell of
   eyeball and   
man your gun.


George Starbuck, “A Tapestry for Bayeux” from Bone Thoughts. Copyright © 1960 by George Starbuck. Reprinted with the permission of Yale University Press.
Source: The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades (2003)
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A Tapestry for Bayeux

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