The Ancient Modern

41, 68, 99, 11, 6 /  Joshua Alan Sturgill

Numbers short by 1. 
Numbers waiting, unfulfilled and uncertain. 
Incomplete numbers we pass by on our way to those that better express and refer.

One drop from full. 
A verb without its tense. 
One curving line away from a completed sketch. 

I feel that I am almost symbolic, nearly transcendent. 
That the missing piece of information waits, hiding in a future hour. 
Or that the music is already playing, but I am too distracted to hear. 

Sometimes, I wait for the right word 
to fit the rhyme scheme and the pattern of rhythm, 
and I know intuitively the right word is available. 
There is a fit. 
The language is rich and flexible enough to present many beautiful options. 

I can’t see it. 
I know it; but when I call, it doesn’t return to me.

There’s a ladder at the heart of the Labyrinth
to take me up, and onward.
A “treasure in earthen vessels.”
A gemstone caked with mud, and so overlooked. 

If only I had a map, a medicine, a metal detector.

It’s the simple culinary technique the master chef won’t share.
The key element making possible the chemical reaction.

Penultimatelacking just 
the quintessence, the catalyst, the capstone.

I seek, ask, knock. I wait.
But for what? Something gentle, quiet.
The smallest, final number.

The unobtrusive Apocalypse.

The last herb 
at the perfect moment of harvest 
investing the liqueur with a power of indestructible life.

All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2019 by Joshua Alan Sturgill

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