The Unicorn

Gertrud Kolmar

The peacock's spread,
Blue, green and gold, flaunted in the twilight
Of tropic clamour in the treetops, and gray apes
Snapped their teeth and wrangled, swung and scuffled and wrestled in the foliage.
The mighty tiger lurking low with claws atwitch stared hard and tense,
As though his Indian fortress streaked that silent unfamiliar game,
Westward to the sea.

The Unicorn

His hooves dashed on the rising tide,
Lightly with greatest ease. The waves pranced
And the pursuant, whinnying, silver-maned throng scoured onward and on and on.
Up above them.
A flight of black storks painted hasty signs of puzzlement on the Arabian heavens,
Which with the setting sun resembled a fruit-laden bowl:
Ripened pear and luscious rosy apple,
Peaches, oranges and magnificent grapes,
With wedges of ripe melon,
Black rocks lay a-glimmering in the gloaming,
Castles amethystine,
And enchanted palaces of carnelian and topaz glowed white,
Roseate mists hung late over the dovegrayed dark'ning waters of the bay.

Sand swirled in eddies from his hooves,
A silent dust cloud. He saw
Lonely cities faintly etched with domes and minarets, and the obelisks in the graveyards
Range mute beneath the reprecussive moon.
He saw
Ruins, abandoned abodes, housing naught but phantoms in glist'ing obscurity
Beneath cold constellations.

Once the desert screech owl lured him on,
And far away jackals howled complainingly;
While hyenas laughed.
And at the entrance to the tent beneath the date palm
Dreamily the white Syrian dromedary raised his scrubby head, ad so did ring his bell.
Past and done with is the unicorn.
For from distance afar, from Ophir land of golden treasure, came its nimble, fleeting feet.
And from its eyes there glittered glance as of those serpents commanded by the magician's flute to undulate and dance and juggle,
Yet from the center of his brow that spiked horn lucent poured a gentler shining light,
Onto the bare hands and delicately shrouded breasts of the lady
Resting there
Between the manna shrubs.
Their hail
And the quiet luster of deep expectant eyes
And a sigh, a gentle swelling murmur from the muzzle,
Nighttime purling.


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