Night of Oblivion

Timothy Donnelly

Enigmatic purple on a plate of crumbled cloud, the dot at the center

of the wildflower Queen Anne’s lace is said to recall a drop

of Stuart blood pricked onto a doily the queen was at work on

when something distracted her from her purpose. History forgot

to document what broke the queen’s focus, but it seems to me

fairly obvious, having lived with it long enough, that memory

was the culprit. “You again,” she gasped, pivoting her face

forty-five degrees to appeal directly to the bright sun to prise

unwelcome remembrance from the countless fast raccoon hands of

her neurons. Strong sensation obliviates thought—thus

this preponderance of neighborhood leaf blowers, synecdochic

of much of Western culture. It takes so much loudness to remove

an oak leaf from a gutter. Native to Afghanistan, the wildflower

also answers to the name of wild carrot for no reason other than

that’s what it is—its spindly ivory taproot bred over centuries

into what’s become the most reliable source of true hot orange

in most our lives, with the exception of the sun as it sets, which Anne

took note of in the windows at Kensington Palace, waiting

for pure darkness, the garden only in outline, the ghost of her son

luminous in moonlight as a paper boat afloat on the still-round pond.

Illustration by Joey Gonnella

Timothy Donnelly is the author of four collections of poetry, including Chariot, forthcoming in May from Wave Books. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Originally published:
March 27, 2023


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