Article

Robert Siegel


Daddy Long Legs

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I am a circle. My perimeter moves
in any direction—up, down,
sideways, forward. My center
is the center everywhere, for I gather
the world around me where I happen to be.
It is alarming how quickly I climb
your khaki pantleg, then scurry over
the grass you brush me to, climb up a tree
though I seem to have no head for direction,
hurrying and standing still at the same time.
One of me is as good as a thousand, for I
meet myself coming back in passages through time,
matter and anti-matter,
monads and mirrors.
Though I move I am still here
and here and here and here,
my scurrying legs
the mere static of time
in the brilliance of being.

I appear to have no eyes, no ears,
no mouth. I am a single thought
surrounding itself, a singular idea,
an eye staring at the inside of the universe,
a pinpoint of light which holds within itself
the history of the Big Bang
and the revolving archangels of the Deity,
the Pleistocene and Waterloo
and the Grammy Awards,
a singularity indeed
from which all flows and circles on itself.

I am brown
as a bun and a cushion button,
my legs thin as hairs.
Where I am, I hold all down
for a moment, then move on
invisible in the grass until
I am again crawling up your arm
as if desperate with a message,
as if to climb the air were no great feat
on invisible threads of light
to give some intelligence of earth to the sun.

A small Martian robot,
a space module, a moving camera.
a heat-measuring spectroscope
gathering the information of surfaces,
computing it and sending it back
as I touch everything lightly,
a measuring up
and radioing of it to a transcendent network—
my legs like the hair of Einstein
or the mad scientist's
or the movies where brains with beaks take over
and siphon everyone up until matter shrivels
and everything is just an empty sleeve
and earth spins away as a colossal thought
into the abyss of thought around it
and there is a vague hosannahing of antennae
and a chorus of small green blips
but gigantic thunders of imagination
and a pure gold dawn when matter reappears.

I am the careless aunt whose hair strays
over a face pregnant with black-eyed susans
and fresh currant-berries
with babies and poems that flew away in the garden
and a smile that dreams another world into being.
I am what didn't get tucked up when you were a child
and made a wonderful mess in the mud
under the cooking sun, the grass
bleeding into your elbows and knees
and the mud on your chin, the small pebbles
lined up and glittering in a row, your own sweet breath
as you moved things and saw them in a riot of newness.

I am a hot-cross bun on legs,
there for the eating, whose bones contain magic
like peyote
to alter the world. If you bite my center
you will never again be content with peripheries
or the long wastage of halls and the dim shores
of existence on the margin, but catch
the single reedy scratch of the sparrow
straight through your heart—
nor be tired from the hours of waiting and
the gray inconsequentials,
the violet of unfulfilled yearning,
and the fizz of desire,
the sad antics of the calculated moment
and the paper parapets of weeks and months,
but drop into the center
revolving slowly
pulling the world by you like a sea—
a strong swimmer
reaching out and pulling all things past,
lightly touching all surfaces,
taking everything and leaving it as it is,
rich with a word you cannot own.

—Robert Siegel is the author of In a Pig's Eye and The Beasts & the Elders.

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