Omens

Her eyelids were painted blue.
When she closed her eyes the sea
rolled in like ten thousand fiery chariots,

leaving behind silence above & below
a thousand years old. He stood beneath
a high arched window, gazing out

at fishing boats beyond the dikes, their nets
unfurled, their offshore gestures
a dance of living in bluish entourage.

He was only the court’s chief jester.
What he said & did made them laugh,
but lately what he sometimes thought he knew

could cost him his polished tongue & royal wig.
He was the masked fool unmasking the emperor.
Forget the revelation. Forget the briny sea.

He had seen the ravishing empress naked
in a forbidden pose. Her blue eye shadow.
Aquamarine shells crusted with wormy mud.

Anyway, if he said half of what was foretold,
the great one would become a weeping boy
slumped beneath the Pillars of Hercules.



More Poems by Yusef Komunyakaa