FALLING LANDSCAPES GIVE YOU SO MUCH MORE

Scott Nicolay & Lesley Wheeler


Eastern redbud, flowering judas, tree too
bent for hanging traitors, too spotted, flushed for
Easter gospels, everywhere blooming, gardens
    lapsed and disheveled.
  
I could say lamb chop, TV, atheism
you would find something, our words turn against us
like this, vines that twist into snakes, pale spiders
         hiding in lilies,
  
fleeing heal-alls, vexed by the thudding iambs.
Falling landscapes fascinate him—a pour of
rock, the banyan’s thicket of aerial roots spilled
    mutely in plumb-lines,
  
runners straining, stretched earthwards, tropic, crusting
over into unsupple trunks. That jungle
strangles language, green wax congealing, Tarzan
            grounded to tired feet.
  
Loin-cloth dry-clean only.  Liana levies
empty his, well, not pockets exactly. You'd
think, no overhead, but insurance alone can
            drag down a wild-man.
  
Once he knew the tongues of beasts, understood them:
now he knows shame. Bare-assed and embarrassed he
bears the human stain, feels his age at parties,
             longs for some long skins
  
like the tasteful pelts Jane wore to Carnival.
Landscapes are falling everywhere—leaves are wise to
fling their veiny hands across our traitor
    flesh, the evidence
  
oozing out from every pore: perfumes of
foods prepared with fire. This the wild man's ancient
birthright betrayed, not for an apple, but a
         steak, well done, with chips
  
or an onion blossom.  Technicolor Tarzan  
sniffs the evening zephyr and grunts to Jane, Me
smell archetypes.  She remembers him in black and
    white, those innocent    
  
days, pre-Disney. Vines were enough then; now he surfs
lichen-slime, I-Pod playing Elton John. When
has anyone fallen so fast, so far? Well
    once, but he never
  
looked so fine in a fig-leaf.  What he’s sorry for,
what he would say to Jane if only he had the
coffee beans, would be lush with equatorial
    perishings, would be:
  
You teach Tarzan everything Tarzan know: first
word of English -- you, sales tax, napkins, birds and
bees, not hang with dirty apes; not look back once--
    not while Jane watching
  
through the leaves’ lace curtains.  Loyalty grows in
rings like tree-boles, toadstools, betraying lovers
even as it dresses them for church.  Listen,
    orchid-bells are ringing,
  
buffeted by bulldozers. Jungles tumble,
dwindle down to preserves, to postage stamps: Dear John,
Dear Jane, We all will be apes and ass-heads     
    when love’s curtain falls.