Circling The Ginkgo Tree In Charleston

by Michael Lythgoe

He asks us to sketch what we see
as if we are in a studio. Act as model,
as artist. Draw lines. Record Holy City
sounds, the light, a gateway, bodies
in motion, at rest, a child’s voice;
a black horse pulls a carriage; hear hoofs
clop—the slam of fists on war shields.

A sign in a King Street shop window
invites us to to meet with antiques.
Depart up a marble staircase to bookcases.
Inside, remember how the Tuscany tallow
drew us together like moths to a flame.

We are Druids engaged in a ritual,
satellites in orbit; planets circle stars,
round and round, points on a compass.
In the middle of the rose, a couple
jointly holds a flameless candle.
We take turns playing roles.
Her sea-green eyes take me into custody.

Support at arms length an object,
a candle stick, or chalice. Offer it up—
a sacrifice in a circle like the stones
at Stonehenge. The tree is our sentry.
Our choreographer is a soldier.


Michael Hugh Lythgoe is the author of Brass a chapbook winner of the Kjnloch River Prize from the PSSC, and a full collection: Holy Week Poems. Mike holds the MFA from Bennington College, and an MA from The University of Notre Dame, and a BS from St. Louis U. He is a retired USAF officer with 24 years of service. He publishes in Windhover, Kakalak, Presence, PermaFrost, The Caribbean Writer, and Christianity and Literature. He lives in Aiken, SC.

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