Two Poems and a Prose Poem From the Past
Remembrance of Monday Afternoon Past
How can I explain to you
what it is to hold someone you love until she dies?
I cannot prepare you for that moment of separation—
it is something so unspeakably personal
that to watch it, to intrude upon it
almost cannot be forgiven.
If I try to tell you about the silences
enclose and isolate,
you will not understand
too, have felt them.
I cannot describe for you
with which you will try to pass
from your arms to hers,
but you will come to know this,
too, as I once did.
When the moment comes,
you will not be ready,
but you will recognize it for what it is—
that last instant
in which possibilities still exist.
These Are The Only Truths I Know
The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel
For that rare, random descent.
— “Black Room in Rainy Weather,” Sylvia Plath
After holding my breath for this long,
if I exhale now, I will die.
Have no doubts, my friend.
Diving into the wreck,
searching for the salvageable,
it never occurred to me
to take heed
of all that had happened above
and around me. My
of what is just,
what is true,
did not allow for
the company of strangers or
their own pitiable laments
or, more tellingly,
We do not rid ourselves of these things
even when we are cured of personal silence
when for no reason one morning
we begin to hear the noise of the world again.
“City Walk-up, Winter 1969,” Carolyn Forché
I never noticed that woman over there,
the one who was drowning, not waving.
She, too, drifted into this miasma, then
vanished. The words of her sad entreaty
misplaced, floating in vain
too far from shore to be heard. The other one—
the one whose soul betrayed her so completely,
left her two small children playing unaware,
sought comfort in
the only philosophical certainty in life:
death (not truth).
She is now but a footnote in her husband’s poetry.
And the other, the poet against forgetting,
when she saw the broken glass
embedded in the walls of the colonel’s fortress,
did she notice the poet’s heart
hidden among the hundreds of scattered human ears?
. . . We did this. Conceived
of each other, conceived each other in a darkness
which I remember as drenched in light.
I want to call this, life.
But I can’t call it life until we start to move
beyond this secret circle of fire
— “Origins and History of Consciousness,” Adrienne Rich
There were signs everywhere,
some true, others
misleading, taking me
across a landscape for which there was no map.
Sometimes, I could no longer see—
an impenetrable fog,
Looming, the Fata Morgana stung my eyes,
crept into my dreams,
offered only a cruel discordance,
falsehoods in the night,
where only truth should reside.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
— “Late Fragment,” Raymond Carver
In the moments before my soul
surrendered to the sea,
I thought I heard you
speak my name as never before.
You called out:
“You are beloved.”
(It was what I had waited so long to hear)
I could have been mistaken. Perhaps,
it was only the wind and the waves,
conspiring to confuse me once again.
but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me
— “This is a Photograph of Me,” Margaret Atwood
And yet, my dearest friend,
there is no escaping the final truth—
It is here, in this unfocused picture. Look
at the ravaged smile,
a disturbing, melancholic dementia
unmasked. This snapshot
was not meant to capture
the disintegration of blood and bone—
(but it did).
In the millisecond it took
for the shutter to close,
This is a photograph of me you
were never supposed to see.
The abandoned live with an absence
that shapes them like the canyon
of a river gone dry
— “Brother-less Seven: Endless End,” Marge Piercy
I have put into your hands
validation: I was at peace
once. Once, I was whole.
Those who cocooned
the golden threads of my muse,
kept them beyond my grasp
for my own protection—
give them this glimpse
of my legacy. Convince them:
Behind these unfocused, sepia halftones,
lies the proof: I had finally acceded
to fate, accepted life
for all that it was
and was not.
(I was still alive,
then) They do not need to know
how uncomfortable I really felt
in my clothes. My friend,
it is a small deceit
for which you need not feel guilty,
for I have left you
with little choice.
The lover enters the habits of the other. Things are smashed, revealed in new light. This is done with nervous or tender sentences, although the heart is an organ of fire . . . echo is the soul of the voice exciting itself in hollow places
—The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
Once, the blaze of promise stoked
the fevered, impassioned heat
deep within the hollow chambers
of my heart. Now,
even love’s most gentle kisses
cannot nourish the scorched core
of my soul. It will not be embraced
only to be abandoned.
Forewarned by the memory of ashes
from countless other burnt loves,
I can no longer embody
the destructive force
of this small, red wound
alive, inside. Nor can I sustain
the healing power
of its flickering pulse.
If I am to smother the flames
of this most tender of vessels,
and most cruel
I must dive deep below
the water’s surface, beyond redemption.
It is the path of sorrow,
it is the road of regret.
It is the loneliest of hunters.
And the musky odor of pinks filled the air.
— The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Put out the light, and then
I thought that I would put out three very different styles from different periods in my oeuvre (to date, that is). Thanks for reading. More later. Peace.