Robert Lax, “herds of dark crea tures”

Like a moonbeam, “herds of dark crea tures” descends, syllable by syllable itself.

But it begins with looking upwards, only able to discern the smallest shapes of dark in the moonlight. There are birds in the sky, hundreds of them, but sight isn’t really how this is known. Fluttering sounds, maybe smells, a taste in the air, the feel of a great movement above—every other sense “sees” in dim, reflected, nearly flickering light.

 Herds of dark crea tures / gath er, and the senses gather into awareness:

"herds of dark crea tures" (h/t Lindsay Choi)
Robert Lax




Lax gives every syllable a line to great effect. Just as the creatures gather, just as our senses gather, the mystery of what is actually occurring is preserved. If the Word was present at Creation, it is plausible that primordial chaos consisted of utterances, of syllables, with which it could articulate and create. What’s funny is that some syllables are fully formed words. Are the ones we think lacking—are they words of another language? How does language make sense?

Herds of dark crea tures / gath er in the sky is an attempt to grasp an experience. Details are given as details are noticed: the progression of a mind is on display. A picture, though, has to already be assumed in order to understand what is occurring. One could say putting ink on paper entails a similar mystery. Even though paper is bright, the scratchings on it won’t make sense until they are assumed to be put together for the sake of communication.

The mystery is motion. Moon lights their manes—these birds are gathering and will go together. But where will they go? They’ve got manes like horses, and in their way, they roam free. In order to grasp a sense, we have been taught not just to look for order or things resembling order, but definite purpose. We believe sense has a knowable end, that things must be put in their proper place in order to be understood. Lax seems to think otherwise. Those birds, like horses, have spirit. They go as they will. They are observed by one who carefully notes how he himself observes.

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