from Light So Late

I have to admit, it does look like a brain,
but what’s brain coral doing in our garden
if it can only live in a tropical sea?
Is it a souvenir (this is my parents’
theory) of the ship’s captain who built our house?
I prefer to believe it’s prehistoric.

I’m ten and adore all things prehistoric,
have mounds of books with which I’ve stuffed my brain
with all the dinosaurs that it can house.
My favorite fantasy’s that, in the garden,
back by the fence, in brush too dense for parents,
it’s still a hundred million years B.C.

I like that my initials are B.C.
and that our house is listed as historic.
(People on tours stop to talk with my parents.)
The coral’s more like bone than like a brain,
so I imagine it’s a skull, and make the garden
a South Pacific island and our house

a merchant ship, (our next-door-neighbor’s house
would probably be better—you can see
the ocean from their widow’s walk.) The garden
is full of natives, now, prehistoric
types who would eat me, even eat my brain.
No wonder I have nightmares, say my parents.

From up in the jungle-gym, I see my parents
moving behind the windows in the house
as if they were ideas in its brain.
Maybe the whole world is God’s fantasy,
I think, and everything from prehistoric
times up to now a game he plays in his garden.

Did he include dinosaurs in the Garden
of Eden, side by side with our first parents?
Is Mt. Ararat in Turkey the historic
resting place of the ark? Did Noah not house
dinosaurs in the ark? My bewildered brain,
lost now, like in the labyrinth I see

in this brain coral from an alien sea…
My grandparents are old, almost historic.
Where was the Garden, where is our Father’s House?

Bill Coyle

Bill Coyle

Bill Coyle is a doctoral candidate at Boston University’s Editorial Institute.  His book The God of This World to His Prophet, won the New Criterion Poetry Prize in 2006. His most recent publication is a volume of translations of the Swedish poet Håkan Sandell, Dog Star Notations: Selected Poems 1999-2016.
Bill Coyle

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Author: Bill Coyle

Bill Coyle is a doctoral candidate at Boston University’s Editorial Institute.  His book The God of This World to His Prophet, won the New Criterion Poetry Prize in 2006. His most recent publication is a volume of translations of the Swedish poet Håkan Sandell, Dog Star Notations: Selected Poems 1999-2016.