Acts of Creation

In dark caves the hand draws floating creatures

with finger-paint grace and smoky pigment:

half is ground quartz and manganese dioxide,

half is calcium phosphate, pestle-powder

remains of the beasts’ own bones and blood.

In the Paris Jardin des Plantes sits Nabokov’s ape,

trained and coaxed month on month on year

to recognise images and to use the pencil:

free at last with blank paper and charcoal

he immediately sketches the bars of his cage.

All these symphonies, these ballads, sculptures,

tragedies, comedies, dances, films, poems,

string quartets, paintings, novels, songs:

from fecund compost of our own bones and bars

creation springs, cage defined and marrow-deep.