CANTICLE DESCRIBING WONDER
Who was it joined the hurricane
To the canticle describing wonder?
Clipping it to centuries long gone
And a hand constantly thought of
As a tree pulled from a landscape
Martyrs might enjoy, notes torn away
From the piano, working temporarily as birds.
A glittering air formed of an immense poetry
Where nothing appears but a singular
Consciousness in the form of an umbrella,
A green mind, then changed by metaphor
To a clear spot in the forest loaded
With medieval trappings and a presence.
A bell-like sound across the square
Where we sit on green chairs
And pretend to be waiting for something.
We watch the hurricane unlock itself
And deliver a blank wall of pure rain.
We have forgotten all about words. We join
Hands and sway side to side, humming.
HOLES IN THE SKY
When I pressed myself toward waking
I discovered that some of the rooms
Of my dream had been eaten away,
Large chunks had gone missing.
The parts with the steep steps leading
To the sea, the twilit room where the
Lady sat crying, holding the long-tailed lamb,
The hills where one could see how large
The fires were as they swept toward the towns,
Nothing on earth able to stop them.
A hunger was left in my bones because of this.
I could hear a historic wind wind through my skull
As I reached for coffee, searched to find where
The window looking upon the fields had gone.
Holes in the sky, something peering through
Them from speechless realms, carrying weapons
The likes of which I had never seen before,
Clouded with forgetfulness and trailheads that
I had seen once in youth that had been stolen,
Used to make fires to cook food upon, the smell
Of roasting meat swelling the morning air.
And now this, an aching within my body
Overarching all but the eyes of the highest
Hawk, the screeching bird, seeking thoughts
Smaller than voles to feed upon, and I tried
To run back to the sheds of sleep and the coolness
Of streams hurrying down the hillsides
Eager to see the sea, to join the endless tides.
ONE ROOM IS A HOUSE
Creeping out among the branches
To know your name, I am above you now.
This is like breathing.
The support we feel when
We recognize our name on
A list of things that may be
Eternal, a whispering in a hallway
That we do not understand.
We watch the lightning strike
The trees in the garden,
The fountain. Oh who will tell
Me if I am dreaming?
I look through the long lists of the saints.
They had no idea at all if they were
Dreaming. I discover my face
In a book of rare engravings kept by
The captain of a long-ago disappeared ship.
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER
A primitive land that leaves
Nothing much behind. It owns
The Winter sky and displays it
In the dance a willow tree
Chooses to describe a wind.
I would try flight but who would
Understand? Even the birds do not
Know why, and it is not everything
To them. Huddled close to a tree
Trunk, knowing when the wind departs
It will once again be time to find
Seeds just beneath the snow.
They have black heads and blacker eyes
And carry maps made of their bones
That tell them where to go.
So I, come here late and without guile
Still detect a primitive ecstasy in
The noises of the crows, the impatience
Of the weather, the scolding I endure
From all imagination for calling this reality.
A POSSIBILITY OF BREATH
for W. Stevens
This space between here and the clouds
Seems careless but for fleeting beauty
And a wharf for docking weary eyes
To something not covered with the dust.
A dreamt majesty that doesn’t
Stare but remains an argument
That there is a sweet, staring
Distance between all things.
Waking as we do from whatever
Uncertain depths we
Direct ourselves in so-called sleep,
We find the wide heaven,
This sparkling haven where we no
Longer need make choices
But use the energy we have gathered
To quell time’s complaints about
Everything that is not dead,
Forgetting even our own names,
Living here without bodies to see
“The low owl plummet, rising of the morning.”
I am sunlight on the surface of the ocean.
I too am the ocean itself,
Streaming to the very bottom
And tracking all that moves within me.
I am the tears of children.
I am the fjords leaning deeply into
The land. I can see the high cliffs.
I am the the songs of the beasts within my body.
And I can speak their words.
And I can know their language.
And I can move with storms.
And I can move with romantic calmness.
And I can carry the burden of the loveliest
Of breezes within my wave troughs.
I can capture the light of the lighthouses and guide
The ship and soul back to the rooms
Away from the wind to sit before
The fire while night rages against
Everything, and I can tell you of these
Things, for I am the sunlight on the surface
Of the ocean.
I will tell you all about blue,
But there is little to say
For the ocean and the sky
Say everything for me and I
See it on the smoke rising
From the fires toward evening,
And yes, floating in your eyes.
D.R. is ill right now, so he sent us photos and asked that we post some of his earlier poetry. These poems appeared on Medusa in 2012.
Don’t forget that Aiesha Jones and Carol Frith will read this afternoon at Sacramento Voices at Sac. Poetry Center, 4:30pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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