Two for Tuesday: August Reflections
If a man in his forties
is still drawing seas and dovecotes
if in his thought is reflected
a sun more transparent,
more lucid than the sun of reality,
if the word ‘Amorgos’ is not just
the mask of a fleeting, adolescent memory,
then between the poem of desire
and the poem of necessity
real loss is panting.
Prologues have been consumed.
They cannot always substitute the topic.
He must decide whether he can
hold on to this absolute idea
even if he has ceased to believe in its power.
It is a question of faith from now on.
Successive metamorphoses of paradise.
The eye tries to interpret the enigma of beauty
while Delos is slowly emerging on the horizon.
Summer feels like an eternity.
The poem begins to invent itself
at the moment when the man turns his face to the light.
(The moment when imagination
freed from the specific sensation of blazing light
vertically rises in the sky.)
Not one sail on the horizon
tearing the canvas apart.
The image of a tree
with its wind-swept boughs scavenging the ground
is not a part of the scenery today.
Yet, the old lady creeping uphill on her knees
tightly holding Her icon is.
The man is walking on the beach alone.
He is still touched by the melodious whisper of the waves,
the way the water is persistently lulling the rock to sleep.
Nature around him
(cedars, rotten fishing boats, shingles)
has a melancholic, unaffected brightness.
If he were to die at this moment
he would want to be here
in this place where he has been.
Even for a while.
~ Haris Vlavianós
A Lecture on Aphids
She plucks my sleeve.
“Young man,” she says, “you need to spray.
You have aphids on your roses.”
In a dark serge coat and a pill box hat
by god it’s my third grade Sunday school teacher,
shrunken but still stern, the town’s
most successful corporate attorney’s mother.
She doesn’t remember me. I holster
my secateurs, smile publicly,
and reply, “Ma’am,
did you know a female aphid is born
carrying fertile eggs? Come look.
There may be five or six generations
cheek by jowl on this “Peace” bud.
Don’t they remind you
crowding the deck of a tramp steamer?
Look through my hand lens—
they’re translucent. You can see their dark innards
like kidneys in aspic.
Yes, ma’am, they are full-time inebriates,
and unashamed of their nakedness.
But isn’t there something wild and uplifting
about their complete indifference to the human prospect?”
And then I do something wicked. “Ma’am,” I say,
“I love aphids!” And I squeeze
a few dozen from the nearest bud
and eat them.
After the old woman scuttles away
I feel ill
and sit down to consider
what comes next. You see,
as I had always imagined.
Even though rose wine is their only food,
~ Charles Goodrich
Music by Fleet Foxes, a new discovery, “Helplessness Blues”