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39 The Sky

hexagram-39-sky‘PASSENGER PLANES DO not carry parachutes at present, since passengers are likely
to object to wearing so bulky an object on a long flight.’

A water-powered armillary sphere engineered in brass foretells for
learners and demonstrates for teachers the real motions of the earth,
the apparent motions of the heavens. Rain fills the bowl – like myrrh to
Arabia. Comets, eclipses affirm the imperial mandate – till astronomers,
erring, lose their heads as the throne revolves into a new constellation.

1st – The Sky Parlour
The poet’s room with a skylight is all civilised possibility, a promise both
ways that needs only one signature. The pen, the notebook, can be of any
style. Meteors occasionally cross the window by day but even at night are
unnoticed – flaring potential, extinguished in the wink of its promise.

2nd – The Pragmatic Sky
Losing height above lion country, the balloonists debate their procedure.
Youth, family, intellect, achievement, prospects, all blow them this way
and that. For a while there’s a democracy, descending onto a dictatorship
– without subjective will there’s no consensus. Some at least are saved.

3rd – The Singing Sky
The song of the sky is incarnate in a lark, like an egg hatching in the
warmth of a wish. Its only coordinates are self and sound, limited for
sightings. Often you’re the sole agent of a lucky capture, at large in the
fenceless distances, a fluttery silhouette, yours for several seconds.

4th – The Fighting Sky
In the age of chivalry an enemy with a jammed gun or no ammunition
was released from combat. Now strict rules are pinned up in the air base.
Never fly straight and level too long, or fire too soon. Shoot out of the
sun or the enemy’s wing. Attack two-seaters from beneath their tails.

5th – The Sky of Royal Exile
The minister loyal to the exiled king is sacked for mumbo jumbo
supporting a failed autocracy. ‘Antisolar light streams through holes
in clouds. That magnificent crown is an illusion. Those rays are almost
parallel. Their apparent convergence is to the vanishing point at infinity.’

6th – The Sky Left Far Behind
A planetary gift must be more than a jar of jam, homemade or otherwise.
Hence the golden record’s murmurings – a monkey, a whale, the ocean,
a baby crying, with thoughtful cartridge and needle. Languages from
Akkadian to Wu: a Rossetta stone (naturally there’s a common message).

All six – The Sky Burial
Where soils are thin, the sky is the deepest grave. Relatives chatter out
of sight while the body-breakers follow their calling, pounding flesh and
bones with tea, flour and butter, gossiping and making jokes. The vultures
gather: the union in the skull cup is medicine, which can poison them.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos


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