April242014
April222014
April212014
6PM

"The Idea of Order at Key West" by Wallace Stevens

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard.
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds. 

1AM

"Diving Into the Wreck" by Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
Otherwise
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

1AM

"Uncertain Oneiromancy," by Denise Levertov

I spent the entire night leading a blind man 
through an immense museum 
so that (by internal bridges, or tunnels? 
somehow!) he could avoid the streets, 
the most dangerous avenues, all the swift 
chaotic traffic …              I persuaded him 
to allow my guidance, through to the other 
distant doors, though once inside, labyrinthine corridors, 
steps, jutting chests and chairs and stone arches 
bewildered him as I named them at each swerve, 
and were hard for me to manoeuver him 
around and between. As he could perceive nothing, 
I too saw only the obstacles, the objects 
with sharp corners; not one painting, not one carved 
credenza or limestone martyr.        We did at last 
emerge, however, into that part of the city 
he had been headed for when I took over; 
he raised his hat in farewell, and went on, uphill, 
tapping his stick. I stood looking after him, 
watching as the street enfolded him, wondering 
if he would make it, and after I woke, wondering still 
what in me he was, and who 
the I was that took that long short-cut with him 
through room after room of beauty his blindness 
hid from me as if it had never been.

1AM

"The Colonel," by Carolyn Forche

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried 
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went   
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the 
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over 
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. 
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to 
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On 
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had 
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for 
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of 
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief 
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was 
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot 
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed 
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say 
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries 
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like 
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one 
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water 
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As 
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them- 
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last 
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some 
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the 
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground. 

12AM
“"I dreamed they cut me open and found I had two hearts. The second one was small, and it was a different color. It was hidden underneath the main heart, so they didn’t see it at first. I was very surprised when they told me about it, but the doctors said it was completely normal. He said that most people have two hearts, we just never know it." I’m intrigued by this one, not only because it’s the last. It’s true, isn’t it, that each of us have two hearts? The secret heart, curled behind like a fist, living gnarled and shrunken beneath the plain, open one we use every day. I remember a night about a year or so ago, when I was lying awake next to Lexy, unable to sleep. For some reason, I began thinking about a woman I had known in college, a woman I had dated for only six or seven weeks. It was not a serious relationship, at least it wasn’t to her, but I had fallen in love with her, and it shamed me to realize that, all these years later, I still felt pain that she had not loved me back. How can it be, I wondered, that we can be lying in bed next to a person we love wholly and helplessly, a person we love more than our own breathe, and still ache to think of the one who caused us pain all those years ago? It’s the betrayal of this second heart of ours, its flesh tied off like a fingertip twined tightly round with a single hair, blue-tinged from lack of blood. The shameful squeeze of it. Lying there that night, with Lexy beside me, I was surprised to find myself where I was. I was surprised to find I had lived a whole life in the meantime. And sitting here now, with all of Lexy’s dreams in my lap, I realized there are things about her I will never know. It’s not the content of our dreams that gives our second heart its dark color; it’s the thoughts that go through our heads in those wakeful moments when sleep won’t come. And those are the things we never tell anyone at all.” The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
April162014
April152014
← Older entries Page 1 of 57