The History of Servia
The records [were given in their language and writing] whether these were derived from
the East or from the West.
Also a record whether derived from east or from west,
the word morning,
to the robins a predicate they conjugate—
they’ll conjugate evening, too, when it comes,
west orange-purple east
my daughter and I lean, eat stirfry in table-light,
birdsound moving space by lace slings—
daughter, adopted from Suzhou, with its perfected canals
called the Venice of the East,
though Venice equally could be called the Suzhou of the West-
history trying to nudge space, move sound, make promises with the integrity of death
(assuming it has).
Suzhou and Venice lick many mirrors, both
speak land, dream water—
The Description of the World
Ye emperors, kings, dukes, marquises, earls, and knights, and all other people desirous of
knowing the diversities of the races of mankind, as well as the diversities of kingdoms,
provinces, and regions of all parts of the East, read through this book . . .
Announcement: Sound turns over in the robin’s throat,
sound moves neither east nor west but outward–
by Marco Polo, a wise and learned citizen of Venice, who states distinctly what things he
saw and what things he heard from others. For this book will be a truthful one. . . .
Truth: the bluejay ribbons to a denser
sky, his wings’ epaulets
And truth: my daughter and I sit where stars and streetlights tonight
will lap the sliding door,
east-light land, or west-wind land,
on tree branches polished by scallops of sky
in the last few pink minutes’
leaf-edge of evening–
before they roll to an even night,
and birds tuck their heads–
The titles and italicized lines of the above poem is taken, respectively, from Marco Polo’s The Description of the World, and Leopold Ranke’s The History of Servia, and the Servian Revolution with a Sketch of the Insurrection in Bosnia.
Daneen Wardrop’s poems have appeared in Seneca Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Triquarterly Magazine,Epoch, Hayden’s Ferry, and other magazines. Professor of English at Western Michigan University, she is the author of two books of literary criticism, including Emily Dickinson’s Gothic (University of Iowa Press).