Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Foundering

My pencil leaves only caterpillar scat on this lined page. Clouds have tied

the sun to the bed frame of the sky. The marsh has withdrawn. No wind, 

no wading birds, the current deeply asleep in some naiad’s tangled dream

my imagination, gasping, drowns in. Fat as a Buddha, I sit and wait. Can I learn 

patience from salt moss? Acceptance from the bowed phragmites? Diffidence

from Black-Eyed Susans whose young faces still look earnestly heavenward? 

This is all there is. All there ever is. Me, trying to decline the world’s language

onto canvas blank as tidal flats, my mouth, open in surprise and full of ash.


  1. That's the problem right there, no wind. Yesterday, in the street the Wellington wind yanked my skirt up to waist height. Luckily I had a decent pair of knickers on. It made me gasp, it made me laugh.

    My eyes aren't great now without my glasses and for a split second I read 'full of ask' instead of 'full of ashes' Imagine that, the difference. Wind and ask. Yes! I wish that for you. Come and visit and we'll help you find both. XX

  2. My mouth is agape at the beauty of this poem. Salt moss and phragmites speak the truth, but I'd beware the Black-Eyed Susans.

    "All there ever is," is quite beautiful.

  3. Dear Mary, at a very wee hour this morning, I read your post, and though I haven't felt much like laughing lately, I burst out in a very unladylike snort--your tussle with the wind, for one, and a mouth full of 'ask.' How wonderful. And ain't it the truth. Ask is probably better than ash--anyone in the world could write 'ash' there--maybe I should have written 'ask.' I'm visiting as soon as I can, both for the rejuvenating wind and the innocent greediness of a child's 'ask'. xo

  4. Dear Jayne, you always make me feel as if I've written something worthwhile, and that is a great gift to give me in these last few weeks when I haven't felt capable of writing my own name in cursive. Yes, we must beware those Black-Eyed Susans! xo

  5. When you are able to take the language and command it to say exactly how things, how you, are, if that is all, all is enough. Just to know our own state, let alone be able to capture in words with no fill or flounce, is skill, is grace. xo

  6. If "This is the way the world ends" and "This is all there is," then by the logic of your echo to Eliot, the way the world ends is all there is.

    I'm trying to track the aim of your implications -- what does anything tied to the bed want, wait for? Release and relief. What does the sitting ascetic wait for? Release, and the oblivion which is the other face of oneness with creation.

    Paul Celan's poem "Sprachgitter" ends on a note of alienation, the two persons separated by circumstances (and evil, and banality, and masonry) become "two heartgray puddles: two mouthfuls of silence." And you've the one mouthful, the words turning to ash in your mouth. The other mouth might be the heartgray sea. I very much look forward to reading more in this series.

  7. Dear Marylinn, when one is in an 'off' state, or rather out of sync with what one thinks of as oneself, the heart doesn't recognize when it's written something truthful to the situation--it all feels odd, distressed, as if to say how things are is to write 'less than' 'weaker than' 'poorer than' whatever the ideal might be. It is indeed 'enough' to tell the truth as one knows it. And it echoes Robert Lowell's deeply (for him) style-changing dictum, 'Why not say what happened?" Truth without frill or flounce--some grace is given in order for that to come to the fore. xo

  8. Zachary, what's tied to the bed and the sitting ascetic do wait for the same thing: release and relief. And what the soul may not cry, but what the soul may mean most of all, concerns time, as in, as soon as possible.

    I don't remember Paul Celan's poem by the title "Sprachgitter'. Two heartgray puddles, two mouthfuls of silence" Yes, one mouthful, the one of ash, might be the mouth accepting (or asking for) oblivion. But if i am, as many of us are, of two minds, then the other mouthful might indeed be one of the 'heartgray sea'--where the sea is the beginning and the effloresence of creation.

  9. If this poem is a soul's cry, it is a restrained and inward sound. It is a very lovely poem. I've sent you the Celan.

  10. Thanks for the German--I'll look for the Felstiner. I'm glad you liked my poem and that it made you twig to the Celan.