Eleanor Wilner


Encounter in the Local Pub

As he looked up from his glass, its quickly melting ice,
into the bisected glowing demonic eyes of the goat,
he sensed that something fundamental had shifted,

or was done. As if, after a life of enchantment, he
had awakened, like Bottom, wearing the ears of an ass,
and the only light was a lanthorn, an ersatz moon.

It was not that the calendar hadn’ t numbered the days
with an orbital accuracy, its calculations
exact, but like a man who wants to hang a hammock

Ex Libris

By the stream, where the ground is soft
and gives, under the slightest pressure — even
the fly would leave its footprint here
and the paw of the shrew the crescent
of its claws like the strokes of a chisel
in clay; where the lightest chill, lighter
than the least rumor of winter, sets the reeds
to a kind of speaking, and a single drop of rain

Hunting Manual

The unicorn is an easy prey: its horn
in the maiden’ s lap is an obvious
twist, a tamed figure — like the hawk
that once roamed free, but sits now, fat and hooded,
squawking on the hunter’ s wrist. It’ s easy
to catch what no longer captures
the mind, long since woven in,
a faded tapestry on a crumbling wall
made by the women who wore keys
at their waists and in their sleep came
hot dreams of wounded knights left bleeding

What loves, takes away

If the nose of the pig in the market of Firenze
has lost its matte patina, and shines, brassy,
even in the half light; if the mosaic saint
on the tiles of the Basilica floor is half gone,
worn by the gravity of solid soles, the passing
of piety; if the arms of Venus have reentered
the rubble, taken by time, her perennial lover,
mutilating even the memory of beauty;