After “I Remember You As You Were” by Pablo Neruda
From Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
In the pool—
in the pool of light,
and look up at the sky
which is pouring through me
in the leaf-ridden water.
I listen to
the sorrowing tree
that are falling.
I watch the sky
turn to leaves
in the water.
I embrace the sky
and become a cloud.
I am the sky.
I am the water.
BENT WATER IN THE MOONLIGHT
It is the bent water in the moonlight that gets lost
where the dream ends. The sleeper still can choose.
The small boat rocks in the moonlight and the curve
of the river pulls. But the sleeper is comfortable here,
dreaming an old dream, safe in the sturdy little boat
in the mesmerizing center of the water.
Then the boat widens until it touches the banks,
and the dreamer steps out of it onto both shores
where two young women are walking away from him—
both are familiar, but his heart can hold only one;
they have warned him of this. Now the boat shrinks;
it can bring him back to the scale of easy dreaming
but begins to drift off and will soon be out of
reach. He is beginning to waken. He must choose.
(first pub. in The Gathering, Ina Coolbrith Anthology, 1999)
THE DEPTH OF LIGHT IN WATER
It was the depth of light in the water—
deep as eyes could follow—
and the hand, testing, learning the deception:
how one thing is another;
how touch breaks stillness—needing to be
broken; how shimmers of light
made such a brief pattern;
how the hand was cold
while the eyes
created something more:
a need to fathom through limitation—
something was past repair:
a globe of such dimension that even sound
would distort and lose itself; then silence—
flattening out—like a ripple
that finally finds shore—what the
mind sought: the question, then the answer.
IN THE MOVEMENT OF LIFE
After Elisavietta Ritchie by Farley Mowat,
The year you were dying
a man stood on a vast plateau of ice
and looked out over the horizonless reaches
at the vast calmness and imagined your death
as his own. He knew nothing of you,
nor you of him.
This is a later recognition.
I give it to you as a gift of human connection:
that one could connect to another
and not be aware.
It is internal—
a thought one has when
there is a silence to fill with something more
than unnamable longing.
DREAMER TRYING TO WAKEN
A pale wash of sky. A gray house floating above a thick
pool of sleep. Sharp green wind in the leaves. Crows and
mockingbirds—song scattered over the morning.
Vibrations in the air. Sirens making jagged lines, distance
bringing them nearer, then fading-them by in streaks of red.
A smear of dog bark.
Agitation of flowers: white, and white, and white blur. A
blue confusion of shadow. A receding figure that goes tex-
tureless in a slow distortion of dark movement.
Something inside the sleep that refuses to awake, seeking
return to the dream—someone out of range of reality—
someone caught in two dimensions.
Something wrong here: a lake of admiration—a woman
watching her shuddering reflection—a man coming up be-
hind her, carrying a child.
A child-sized boat that rocks on the groping water, a glitter
of goldfish flashing underneath. The child holds out its
hands. Laughs. The reflection reaches up.
An interruption of crow cries. A drowned doll on a pillow,
covered with tears. A red rose drooping in a waterless vase
in the room’s deep, protective shadow.
A hum of gray balances the sky. Stillness settles in, be-
comes permanent. With a brush-stroke of brown, the gray
house attaches to the land. The artist signs his name.
(prev. pub. in Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry, 2003)
Would I dare to swim in this white churn of shadows—this
swirling temptation of water, among these golden bodies of
fish that rise to touch the surface, and circle and circle, and
make the cold light shimmer at their disturbance . . .
Would I merely slip among them—as if I belonged—as if I
did not believe in drowning, but only in the faith of a new
dimension; would I endure their curiosity as they circled in
and let me touch them . . .
What would I be of myself to become something else—to
see how deep I might go without breathing; would they follow
and lead the way back if I lost direction . . . .
The gold water drowns into the night,
the light of the moon…
What begins is only. Only is once.
Beginning always begins.
Save me, says the full moon, orange and low.
I hold out my hands to catch the moon…
The moon drifts into the water.
I am too far.
I follow the moon-path of the water.
My eyes do the catching.
My eyes are full of the moon.
I close my eyes and lose the moon.
I sleep and the moon escapes
into the sky on the water.
The light illuminates my wonder.
I am in my dream now,
the drifting dream,
the falling moon.
The moon-filled pond that is now
a shallow desperate river.
I am the dreamer you dreamed
for a daughter.
I am yet unnamed and unaffected
by any horoscope.
I am at the point of my existence
and I have no memory of it.
I am a confusion of molecules
and inner desires.
I am in a tunnel
swift time flowing at each opening.
I am daydreaming this.
My eyes are too sad for tears.
I think time has slipped past me,
taking your dream with it.
My parents have died and left me
less than an orphan.
The tunnel fills with music and
water, and I swim—I swim into the music
to remember, to remember who I am.
After “Damaged Photos” by Amber Flora Thomas
Lament comes easily.
Fortune frowns. Pictures fade.
Words are remembered as lies, or yearning.
One never sorts the realities for truth.
Whiteness is everywhere there is a scream.
The utterance is terrible.
Moods are made of water—for drowning,
for surviving—if one can swim.
Drop-offs have no ending. Cliffs are too high
—an eternity stretching between.
In your dream you are an infant crawling upon
the ice, your eyes blue coals of effort, and resolve.
Reach is hard to master. You reach for the shadow
and it recedes at the pace of your reaching.
Sometimes a faceless stranger brings love to you
which you accept, already weary of it.
When you are pitiful enough to love
sorrow will love you. You are promised that.
You are her servant, the one who webs
the doorways, and the windows.
She is no-one, and no-where, though you
have need of her, so she becomes your mirage.
You know you will win. Your resolve is faultless.
That you are target has never occurred to you :
Bow pulled back… Arrow trembling at
releasing point … Target a blur of surrender:
again we are circular
longing for light
caught in a stray music
from the center
from the edges
from the pull
enter and drown
enter and become
enter and remain
whatever this sensation
go with the pull
whatever the sensation
it is new
it is old
My mother named me happiness.
Shall I believe her?
Time passes through me
like poured water.
Gold fastens to my sand.
I gleam with pleasure.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam today for her fine poems and zentangles, riffing on our Seed of the Week, Water. Our new Seed of the Week is Rainbows. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty to choose from.
If you’re interested in entering the 91st Annual Poets’ Dinner Contest, don’t forget that the deadline is Saturday, January 28! (Info: sites.google.com/site/poetsdinner/.) You must be present at the Poets’ Dinner in Pleasant Hill on April 1 to win. This year’s theme is Foolishness—something Medusa can definitely relate to….
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