I have left the golden skein unraveling.
It makes a glow in all of this poetry.
It allows me to use images such as
A silent flower on the edge of dreaming
To press my luck with the idea of oblivion
By claiming I know the sunrise
That shapes such things when they decide
To claim our skins for sails,
Our blood for seas upon which they launch
I do not recognize the boats of my memory
As they approach the quay with
Their nervous mornings, thinking I will
Recall the tribute they bring
To me, full of mirrors and doors,
Numbers, and names.
But I no longer know them.
I stand looking at the sea,
Dwelling on vague dates when
Incredible things have happened,
Such as your existence and mine
Torn from this same sea-gazing,
Built of secrets,
Full of brightness and tasty berries.
(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2013)
THE PINK CHAMBER
Painting across memory.
Bells begin to peal in distant countries.
The last century sits down
At a plain table and begins
To explain itself, scattering
Dishes and tableware in all
An empty room begins to vomit
Glaciers that have no center.
Ships devoured by the seas
Rise up against the windows
Claiming to be witnesses
To all of the empires.
“Dust and glass,” they shout.
“Dust and glass.”
There is no order.
We may suddenly find
The pink chamber
Where no one knows anything
Precisely. And you recognize
It perfectly and try to repeat
What you cannot understand.
The ice on the river in Winter.
I see you running toward me
From the shore. The liquid eye
In Winter. The fish below the ice
Looking up at us. The lens of their eyes.
The lens of the dream through which
We see what God must be feeling.
The shining from behind the eyes,
The maker standing in the whirlpool.
The history of the eternal.
The threshold to both sides of the mirror.
The doorway with no opening, yet so clear
We imagine it real. Pass from room to room
Without touching the ground.
I watch you move toward me
Through the bright air.
THE SOUND THAT HOLDS THE WATER
I am the charm of lightning.
I am the gift of the fleet.
You will sing for me
In the core of all dancing,
Pure in the center of streets.
I have the grail of forgotten dreams;
They dance on the face of my shields.
They burst the night at its seams.
I hold the leashes of the devil dogs
Who live on breath such as ours.
They strain on their leads
Each shadow, each motion,
Each movement of my hand is the truth.
The blood of my heart will capture you.
You draw me up by my eyes.
I burn like a chirring of the morning.
I sing as the vision of the skies.
You will not tempt me with magic.
You will not charm me with song.
I know what is right with your soul cart.
I also know what is wrong.
I’ll spell you a charm as you kiss me.
I will give you a ring for forever.
I will hold back the water that drowns.
Keep me in your arms till your heart melts.
I’ll hold you in my soul past all dawns.
I will place all the heavens within you.
You will feel if you’ve never done wrong.
CHASING THE DRAGON
Opening the doors,
The lower chakras
Make a break for it.
Leave the body
The garage as they turn
The corner headed
For Key Street.
I do not have to save myself.
My head spins like a landing
Beacon at an airfield.
The mirrors seal up memories,
Forbidding me to know anguish.
Vanish into the river before
I can know what is happening.
I chase the dragon. It looks
To be a deck of cards strung out
Flying six feet above the ground
Propelled by what cannot be
Forgotten and then becoming
A thing that lasts only as long
As fire lasts.
No one will notice that it is gone.
This is an old Chinese town.
Dragons are everywhere.
They dangle golden from strings
In store windows, are taped across
Doorways and appear in T-shirts.
One large red dragon appearing
In the flames of a burning building
For a couple of seconds could
Easily go unnoticed, much as our
Own lives vanishing before us.
I have no idea how this works.
Does one turn a page and suddenly
A pressed violet, a sunset captured,
A shadow flecked with gold,
A string of horses ambling along,
The top of the ridge at twilight appears.
Once I saw a city gleaming
In the distance as I crested a hill.
It was an instrument that played
The soul, an opening, a turn
In the labyrinth that survived
In my consciousness until
This very moment when I had to
Tell you that there might an opening
You never expected.
You don’t know me.
I may be ashes and darkness. I may
Be completely imaginary to you.
But I will testify to the opening,
A sweetness neither of us ever
Expected. Let’s keep on working
On this idea well into the future.
Perhaps this day will never end.
In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for his fine, fine poems and pix today, even as his brother is still ailing, and to Stuart Walthall for the Fire Dragon, a photo which was taken in Locke on July 3, the day of the fire.
Susan Kelly-DeWitt reading from her new book,
Spider Season (Cold River Press), plus
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
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