:: :: :: :: terrible dragon: slaying the world one poem at a time :: :: :: ::
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A portent of plenty
It might be the owl that cues the night from her branch in the oak when I rise half asleep to relieve myself at the precise moment I begin to think of you, or the black phoebe that brings the six-legged sun in its beak to perch the crossbeam outside my window in a portent of plenty.
It might be rounding a curve to see the vehicle already airborne kicking up dirt midway through its flip and coming to rest on its roof while I pretend composure leaving panic to those who would have it as I already know there’ll be time for all that later.
And it might be the bright swath of vapor cutting the sun in half, rain on the way, signs inscribed on the horizon, the thousand ways the day might intrude itself into your dread or wishfulness, the dreamladen nudges in the night that whisper a butterfly has eaten the moon.
Those years ago, this was the last night of it. The masked merrimented spent of their raucous revelry, their costumes rouged and rent, brimmed in a calamity of cups. We stood and swayed in circles to music skipping off the old cracked walls of the Weinmarkt, the kitschy schlager song about Greek wine pouring mirth like retsina from our mouths.
These years hence, my hands have weathered some since they lingered briefly along the lineage of your fair face, slipped the trace of your perfect nape to find shoulders that have known worlds beyond my transit. I think of you now yet young and alive as Fasnacht winds down to the rising sun, your love beside you as the loves of winters gone still chase their shadows along the place where the swans gather and scatter.
I think of you now arrived years since, your future yet to ripen, your hurried hem kissing the keeping street stones that have known love and lutesong, loss and longing, the dark plagues that reminds us time will take it all as when the moment a girl yields to her first lover, the field surveyed and laden with snow, the humors of the blood stirred with the season that makes warmth an edict of both pleasure and necessity.
So I think of us then, now and then, caught in the frieze of a recollected doorway, our arms indiscernible as where we touch, the passersby eddied in singular currents that take them downriver from where we hold awhile as the world throws itself against the stars we alone flint in kisses that light the battlements that ring the old city above us. Those years ago, this was the last night of that. And so it is again. You are there, I am here, as we are everywhere yet together, everywhere as everywhere is where we are not.
It took Fellini to tell me I never saw my father dance. All the days of our lives were less than the days I’ve given my son. He has seen me dance. So when he writes some lost memoir of me, it will be about never seeing me do something else. Perhaps, what he’ll remember is just not seeing me. In La Città Bella, we sit and dine together, as families everywhere do. We discuss the day, the million bits of minutiae that comprise the better of an hour, over pasta and garlic bread buttered with smiles the day has worn rich by its living. There might be a girl named Nicolina, a boy named Marcellino, a veiled woman with no name at all passing by the open window, strangers marking the tiny divisions between now and the next now. The clinking of eloquent silverware making for an appetite of small talk, persiflage, if you prefer, the white ceramic plates glinting glossy gas lamps from across the galaxy. Underbrow, something like worry wears my underface when I reread the first line of this poem: I never saw my father dance. There are grottoes carved out of human hearts. Mine is built this way. So is my son’s, I know it. If I could, I’d tell him that I could hold passages of strings in my legs, that my hips were able to round the tango out of a woman’s feint lilt, that my blood knew tamboured beats well enough to keep.
The Beautiful City remembers everything for us. It keeps us fast to its guttered bosom, bids us come inside as the sun slips into the last birdcalls, presses the dusk against our throats like a brazed stiletto, holds the last door open ‘til we’ve scuttled in breathless, our chests heaving with good fortune. There is weeping rising up from the basement. Or is it drifting from the attic, we cannot tell. Temples of tangrammatic flesh make puzzles of what we can’t decipher from known shapes we are born to make. In this way are we set outside ourselves from time to time, to be tendered with rarity and feasts lost to a barren tree of extinct knowledge.
I can’t say what I mean, but you know, you know. Just open your mouth, your blouse, your prison filled with all you forsake for happiness like a cigarette fast asleep in bed. Such are the sentences of sons and fathers to sons again. In The Beautiful City, it will all matter, all of it. The air will thicken with cympasia and silence, the drawing kiss nepenthe sings to the nightingale’s sweet forgetting.
1 That small lake in Holland still holds her three trees along the bank. Ordinary lake, pond really, nothing remarkable, nothing to recollect why it matters all these years later. A scattering of ducks where the canal glazes in from the north, a single bird braving the middle waters, one paddled foot after the other, until the dark vectors of its passing disrupts the diffused light a reluctant sun placed there rising to flatten out into long v’s of flight. The halt old man, the hasty lovers, the tardy maid who might have angled through the fields to pass this place of quick forgetting, the deafening calls of dawn or dusk pressing duty to the hurried feet, life an impatient visitor in need of tending to at all costs, even this one.
2 The moving of a single chair changes the room, releases the house from within itself, turns the world toward a point of direction it has never known along an arc that trails off into what has yet to be. Clean the window glass and a star settles the sill. The door ajar is neither open, nor shut, allows neither light nor shadow to enter or leave. Halls hold posture, offer fleet transition to all who would seek such promises of it. The rug untrod stays to its purpose, cares nothing for the foot that has not traversed, or for those that will. Shelves settle deep into themselves, hold all we might need before we ever know the ache of such reckless needing.
In these things come what it is to live for such loss.
wisdom is worth all we lose to attain it. ~aucassin verdé
i wonder if the artist ever lives his life-—he is so busy recreating it. only as i write do i realize myself. i don't know what that does to life. ~anne sexton
you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. in my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid and the envious. the stupid will like you in five years time. the envious, never.~john wilmot, 2nd earl of rochester
art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes. ~kahlil gibran
creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. art is knowing which ones to keep. ~scott adams
those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either. ~golda meir
i said to my soul, be still,
and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope
for the wrong thing.
wait without love,
for love would be love
of the wrong thing.
there is yet faith;
but the faith and the love
and the hope are all
in the waiting.
wait without thought,
for you are not ready for thought.
so the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness the dancing.