Tuesday, April 16, 2013
THE FACE IN THE LINOLEUM
Where went that face—fixed,
evil face—intent with direction,
finding my face—that stare
between us—long and studious.
I could step on it—hold it there
—grind it underfoot. To look
away was to lose something
of the self’s position—a force.
And now, times later, I search
the space where it was—where
I met it with my recognition,
and cannot find it anywhere.
here is the child
sweet as morning
a cherub child
a religious child
in a dark cradle
a halo is locked around its head
formed by its mother’s eyes
which are worshipping the child
her hand is rocking the dark cradle
which her husband has built
from the wood in the forest
her husband has had to go into the
exact center of the forest
to find the right wood for the cradle
the fire on the hearth
is sharing its shadows with
the walls of the cabin
the cabin walls
are filled with dancing shadows
which become human
knowing jealousy and adulation
now they are standing around the
form of the tireless mother
who is rocking the dark cradle
she does not see them crowd behind her
we do not know if
they are the good shadows
or the evil ones
they are bending forward
with glowing eyes
to look at the child in the cradle
* * *
I am looking out at the world
I am an old woman in a cradle
my mother is bending over me
with her young hand on the
side of the cradle
I am rocking
my father has carved the cradle
out of his own body
he is missing the piece
that is my cradle
I cannot cry
and I do not want to sleep
my father is walking out the door
my mother would go to him
but I do not want
her to stop rocking the cradle
I hold her here with my eyes
it is me
I am rocking my own cradle
(first pub. in Celebration, 1987)
THE DEATH-GAME CIRCLE
The children chant around their little death-game circle, innocent of death and its predictions—sing-songing the words, their faces strained intensities. They become pitched and accurate, taking no breath between verses.
Their eyes glaze; they lift together in an excited hovering. The chosen, sacrificial child falls dead in the center of their center—lies in the trance of accepted alteration—is turned in the opposite direction by the force of the others, whose words run together in nonsense.
But the dead child believes in its death, and the chanters believe in their power. A black wind of evil flows through the game, marking the killed child, caressing the innocent intention of the spellbound children, whose chanting now is shrill and truly dangerous.
It is a blemish, this thought,
this thing that occurs and diminishes
the disfigured one,
this self-hating one,
that suffers its own evil
out of some sick habit,
a habit that is a trap,
how you cut self
Hovering ghost of heaven
of heaven’s waters
those seas to not drown in,
believing in salvation
from evil and fate
all the conditions that evolve,
test after test
of failed arrivals
turbulence of human folly,
sailings into unmapped destinations
as if there were land somewhere
even an island.
It was the other darkness made of stone light.
The touch that was terrible. The shy regret.
The very substance of evil, unrecognized.
Oh, who has harmed me with such
unforgiveness? Am I lost? A child forever?
How am I to return and unlock the old gray door?
I follow a path of shallow water
and wake in a bed of shallow glass. I can tell
no one, give no one the weapon of my life.
Let the curtain hang in the window of despair.
Look in. Look out. I am on both sides.
Someone is reaching for me.
I own my life. I give it to no one.
Whoever wants it must pay a terrible price.
It is a silent life, a great stain on the heart.
My mind burrows, looks for
its beginning. . . there I am! there I am!
IN THE MIND OF
All night they struggled through the forest,
two creatures from the tale of woe,
doomed to create an ancient story
from myth to moral,
she being borne on the back of a handsome beast
who would protect her from the evil
that lurked at the edge of fairy tales
not yet written.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and photos based on our Seed of the Week, Cesar Vallejo's line, "Night is a Cup of Evil". Her work turned out to be appropriate to this day on many levels, since we are all still reeling, of course, from the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday. Tom Goff sent us this poem last night. Thanks, Tom.
ON THE BOSTON MARATHON EXPLOSIONS
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Like booby-traps strung purposely low, to eviscerate,
these bombs packed metal and force enough to amputate
the legs of the strongest runners right at the finish line.
Years distant from Diana risking her land mines,
how estranged must we live from our labors in Iraq or Vietnam?
How near must they again veer: close as any Athenaeum?
—Medusa, with hopes that you'll write about "This Fragile Earth" for our new Seed of the Week to celebrate Earth Day and as a chance to think about recent events. Send your thoughts, artwork and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org