Eclogues Of Escape I
(in which Houdini the myth is considered)
By Steven Price
He knew himself wholly
in that other. Ropetrod or strangled stage
right, rumpled in trunk tricks, flushed, tousled,
magic's antic, contrary, quarrelsome
to brag and strut and bolster men
to strangeness and the bloodclock in
skulls. Coalbox, bolt-ladder, paper crate,
chain-grip, each weird escape a kind
anger felt at being held hard down
if such letting-go or slackening
drain him of his self: the struggle less
slaking of the fists than of the mind.
life raised and raised again in metaphor;
words laid out in tackled thunk and buckle,
or leather-rot, thick holdings hoarding
words like coins: never less himself
in the language of old locks, closings,
given. Life a kind of end-stopped line,
in the breath and bloodbeat of it;
turned from all of that. Escapes each night
of musty centuries of magic:
stiff, leathern satchel his flesh became.
Latch: He held his life in his teeth like a
meant restraint, finding one's place:
warm rope fed and bellied him at the first,
cold rope will lower his casket at the last.
he escaped to, what he escaped from--
these so different?