Pagodes (Debussy)

Keshav Kannan | Art by Julia Xu

Pentatonic—five notes, five points, five strands (of hair? of space?)
Five layers, glum and longing, dotting lush pacific waves
Furled and rolling, never depolarizing
Gentle insistence and a blanket
             —Five blankets—
Laid over a banana leaf, an ocean in itself, although before a hand makes contact

(Oh to stare out of windows, bays, estuaries, coves, shells)
A wave from the east is impossibly upon us, upon

(A house on certain nights so sacred, on others deconsecrated
           by the cattle we shepherd within, cattle so weary that no promises five may offer them rest—
Rest in earthy bowls of rice and earthy cups of tea subsumed submerged consumed          by heavenly water)

footfall, shadows fall, shadows slip and waltz, shadows peel off of earth as snow and vision

In dusky autumnal beauty five dutch boats will arrive at five archipelagos after a journey of five eons and this cross five points alone must bear

In the shadows three turn blunt, blurred
            Two sharper than ever before

I am    we are all impressions, shadows
how much can but five notes speak?
             of suburbs calling for pacific fire and forest
             of gardens cultivated in honored imitation
             of people cultivated in honored imitation

above their somber, candid bass do waves ferry fairies across boiling waters so sluggish

We will reach these islands or we will sink into their reflections—our reflections

no reflection in slabs of cobbled stone on which gray rain slumbers heavy with the scent of tea and its delicate choral existence stealing away into soil

    (One day an earthquake will come and impression will fall away into coarse sand and cacti and
    this land will be reborn yet forever within us we carry sugarcane plantations, railroads,                                                                                                                                                      lumber mills, grape fields, shrimp boats)

A voyeur looks east, staggers west, then retreats into Time and I find myself
           hesitant to transcend impression
           when it can evoke such a wonderful, unresolved world

One day an earthquake will come—a different space borne by five notes

          a different five notes?
Five flumes filled with ashen freshwater, perhaps six—it hardly matters

for where does b become c    or e f?
           she they struggle in-between before blooming,
the dissonance of latent grains of rice swallowed by a sea 

plates and layers of mossy soil shifting in quiet revolution i search for our dominions and find
them upturned,       and others, wasted and conquered

my skin   our skin running in desert sand like blood, dark and pungent
                      And perhaps at last will this old world land be tainted, as a new world—older
than most—arises, of stories and severed limbs and songs sung to sailors that burst through
           (with an eloquent grace) the frames within which they were painted with crane-feather quills and india ink and the plantations and boats and mills and HUNDREDS of deeper temporal lands will ferry us to to to immanence? existence outside

of these five infernal notes

indeed, one day an earthquake will come