Absolute zero: the locust sings:
summer’s caught in eternity’s rings:
the rock explodes, the planet dies,
we shovel up our verities.

The razor rasps across the face
and in the glass our fleeting race
lit by infinity’s lightning wink
under the thunder tries to think.

In this frail gourd the granite pours
the timeless howls like all outdoors
the sensuous moment builds a wall
open as wind, no wall at all:

while still obedient to valves and knobs
the vascular jukebox throbs and sobs
expounding hope propounding yearning
proposing love, but never learning

or only learning at zero’s gate
like summer’s locust the final hate
formless ice on a formless plain
that was and is and comes again.

Conrad Aiken, “Summer” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1953 by Conrad Aiken. Reprinted with the permission of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc.
Source: Collected Poems (Random House Inc., 1970)
More Poems by Conrad Aiken