Monday, July 15, 2013

Medusaed To Be True

Ballet Folklorico, "Old Coots" Dance
California State Fair, 2013
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—William Bronk

Greek stones look as though they'd flowed
into molds of figures, fluting, leaf forms, scrolls,
a sensed and sensible world turned stony-hard
and durable, medusaed to hold and be true,
as figure carving holds an impress pressed
on the carver's eye by a visible form whose grace
and harmony his hand lays hold and holds.
This way of handling stone is to say of the world
it is workable, and yielding and full to the hand;
and their quarrying quarried a rich world.

Looking at stones the Incas laid, abstract
austerities, unimitative stones,
so self-absorbed in their unmortared, close
accommodation, stone to different stone,
exactly interlocked, deep joined,
we see them say of the world there is nothing to say.
Who had to spend such easing care on stone
found grace inherent more as idea than in
the world, loved simple soundness in a just joint,
and the pieces together once though elsewhere apart.


—William Bronk

The most of men are all too much myself,
my shed externals, as feces, hair, skin,
discarded clothes, useless to me and dead.
From oneness, what should we say we hadn't said
before together? Nothing to say to them,
nothing to say. As they to me, so must
I seem to them. The human loneliness
is the endless oneness of man. Man is one;
man is alone in his world. We are the one,
even we, who whisper together now
closely, as though we were two, as children do,
knowing as much as we, and making believe, 
even as we believe, that another is there.


—William Bronk

So much light in what we call the dark
of the year, a flashing and glittering of light—
it quivers, it flaps in our face like slaps of wind.

Should it surprise us, having known the holes
of darkness in the longest days?

                                                    I have done
with promises (or say I have) of things
to come: the all-light; the all-dark;
something slow emerging; the slow (or fast)
and final decay.

                            The thing we have to live
with, the last thing, is it is all 
here, and was, and will be, is all there is.
Nothing is coming but what is already here
as this light, now, in the darkest time
(and nothing here that ever needed to come)
at once, too much for us and not enough.

Sutro Clown made in 1911 for Sutro Baths/
Playland at the Beach, San Francisco
California State Fair, 2013
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—William Bronk

The splendor is not surprising; we expected it
and shine in the brightness of new paint. That the lines
should firm, though, corners sharpen, and the eaves
be reasserted, is more than we thought to ask
or look for. What is shown is a strength of the house itself
that it held in its underframing, still could hold.

We hold houses in a kind of contempt and give
them nothing, or say we do, as a way to despise
the kinds of things that houses are, all
such kinds of things, the measured entities,
that they should not be what was intended: they fail.
They burn. They fade and sag. They fall away.
We think of a time before we housed the world
or gathered things—spirits were all we saw,
spirit was real, was what there was, was all.
This was man did this, and thought to do well
when he turned away to say, on the contrary, all
the world was what we measured: houses, sums
and angles, vectors and smoothable curves. We turn
and turn again another way to find
some way to state the world, dissatisfied
none answers.


—William Bronk

Doubtless, it is the complex of many things
that makes it; the green for example, the color alone,
fine as that is, so intense a green, yet bland,
mild really, no, the green alone
is not enough to do it, though it is true
that yellow would be impossible, brown,
red, blue, no. It has to be green.

But it has to be more than green. There is this for one
thing amongst the many, as though there were
one, more than another, that makes the effect:
looking from slightly above it, we see that, though
by blade after blade after blade it extends a far
distance, yet against the fence and the wild field
it does end, after all. It comes to an end.

And futher, in spite of small undulations, it asserts
a flat plain-ness, an assertion it carries off
with such bravura, it is as though it defied
not the curvature of the globe, only, but the curve
of space itself, went straight beyond the curve
enough to not follow, and just enough,
and hung there, overhung it. As though it did.


—William Bronk

If there is a shape to the world in terms of time
and space—our own or, by concessions to shapes
of others, received—if there is such a shape
—in part there is—note that the words we use
referring to time, as temporary for one
or temporal, admit our diffidence
toward any shape we give the world by time.

The shapes of space share less of this distrust.
We acknowledge chaotic recalcitrance
in space, its endlessness both ways, the great,
and small, and yet respect the finite shape
of bounded places, as much as to say they are true.
Some absolute of shape is stated there
which satisfies the need that makes this shape.

How strange that after all it is rarely space
but time we cling to, unwilling to let it go.


Today's LittleNip:

—William Bronk

That limpid mirror that wakes us in the night
and watches, breathless, beside us in the bed
before we sleep again, says nothing, has
no need to say, draws commentless
its images that stun us. We never reply.
Do we dare to? How should we say? Do we even know
whether we'd rather not have seen? We know
nothing of who we are or where; this
is something, is lucid anyway; it could
be what we are. Is it for us to say?



Mexican Art and Pottery
California State Fair, 2013
—Photo by Michelle Kunert