Thursday, July 24, 2008

Day Twenty Five

Title: This, my favorite memory.

Ah, what a fine poem to end on. Yes, folks. This is the last of my daily series. I'm wrapping this project up and working on a larger installation, taking what I've learned with these small pieces and putting it into a bigger context. I'll be posting pictures as I progress on the installation. It should only be another week or so before I complete it. I'll give you one hint: the installation is for the poem, Elegy (see Day Fourteen).

This poem, First Winter with You, speaks to the new vocabulary I had to learn when I moved to the east and experienced Winter for the first time. I became fascinated with how the natural world changes. It seemed (and still does seem) so full of mysteries. Ice, in particular, caught my attention. How it changes from day to day, how you can never really trust it (but people do!), how you can make a foot print in soft ice and come back the next day to see your footprint filled with water that has frozen over, like a mold.

Jim, who has grown up with very cold winters, laughs and laughs at me when I make these kind of discoveries. Endearing moments, those ones.


First Winter with You

I walk out onto
what should be water
and wonder why
I do not fall through.

I wave at you.

This, my favorite memory.
Not falling through.

I press the heel of my boot
down, dare a crack.
Come through, water.

You take my hand
and lead me away.

I do not fall through.

Day Twenty Four

Title: and what happens when the bird flies in?

Check out Day Eleven for the background story on this poem.


Greatest Fear

And what happens when the bird flies in?
I would like to imagine you will
turn a new shade of flustered, more
awkward and lovely, all girl, all
fluttering over a small winged thing.

I get that it’s not just a bird.
I get that the universal symbol for fear
is a sparrow.
I get your defiance.

If only your hands did not resemble
wings. Your heart, that feathered vessel
shaped for flight. If only.

Day Twenty Three

Title: love, we have made good time even in bad weather

Sometime last year at work, one of our engineers said something in passing about a steady state angle. I had never heard this term before, and I asked him what it meant. His explanation was that it was the angle a certain substance always made in a pile. For example, sand. When you make a pile of sand, the angle it makes in relationship to the ground is always the same. For you science buffs out there, wind and weather will alter the steady state angle. And different types of sand have different steady state angles. I know. But for arguments sake, I was interested in the idea of the steady state angle as metaphor for bodies coming together.


Steady State Angle

we have been bodies
inside bodies
on a highway headed south
with no space, no
outside between us.
I miss that.

they say
sand always piles up
at an angle of twenty-seven degrees

we have made love
with our two bodies
in a snow-covered cornfield
near 200th Ave.
I miss this.

it is called a steady state angle

we have been
coming to our senses
catching our breath.
I miss you.

it doesn’t matter how much sand there is

we have made
good time even in
bad weather,
we have been lost
but still made it,
we are here

the angle is always twenty seven degrees.

we are here.

Day Twenty Two

Title: i try for years

This poem goes with the dream series I blogged about on Day Twenty. It was a real dream, as dark and real as anything. What I remember most about the dream was my inability to speak to him, to say anything meaningful. I suppose real life with him was like that, too. It wasn't so much a speechlessness as a mind-tripping kind of self-censorship. I always felt like nothing I had to say was smart enough or witty enough or whatever enough. I could not compete with him.

It's been years, and every time I see him it's the same. I fall silent and flat.


Dream of my complicit silence

He’s sitting there
in the middle of the pub,
the empty Irish pub, picking
at a Spanish guitar.

Once, he told me his father
was an alcoholic, is an alcoholic,
he told my hair, which was
bunched in his hands and dying.
He told me in the dark.

The guitar is not important.

He’s alone and I’m
alone in the pub and I try
to say something. I try for
years while dust collects
on the windowsill.

I follow him
when he leaves.

What’s important is the flask
in his left pocket.

I don’t know how to tell him
to stop.

Day Twenty One

Title: the sleeping world glitters

Well, this poem got kicked out of my thesis in the final run-through. Again, it didn't thematically fit. Boo.

I wasn't thinking about the poem this line came from when I put this piece together. In fact, when I went to post this blog, I had to do a search through all my poems because I couldn't even remember which poem it went to. I had forgotten that the poem had to do with birds. Specifically, a small moment when I looked out my window at work and saw a flock of pigeons flying away. It was winter, it was cold. But those birds took little pieces of the sun in their wings and dazzled me.


the ones that stay

this flock they
flutter the December daylight
wings across a low-lying sun
thousands of them

flutter and flicker
the sleeping world glitters

I blink
and they are gone

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day Twenty

Title: i wanted to stop dreaming about him

A new direction, maybe. Just playing around.

This line comes from a sequence of dream poems I wrote this last spring. I often dream in cycles, with the same cast of characters showing up again and again. The dreams come in two or threes or fours. And they are never light dreams, never the kind that float away with the alarm.

For a long time, I used to dream about this boy that I loved. Even after we'd stopped talking. Even after years and years of silence. He'd just show up for a week or two in my dreams, and then he'd disappear.

This poem is not quite a dream, though it goes with the dream sequence. It is about that boy. About a letter of apology he wrote to me at the end of our tragedy.


Dream I haven’t had yet

There is a letter
six pages long,
at the bottom of the Pacific.
At the bottom of the cliffs.

I believe
he meant for me to keep it.
It was an apology.
It was so many years.
It was all green and blue.

I didn’t want it.

I wanted to stop dreaming about him.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day Nineteen

Title: the way a woman sings when there is nothing left

I wrote a lot about rivers when I lived in Pittsburgh. They have a way of seeping into the darkest corners of your consciousness and leaving secret things there. Driving over the Rankin Bridge one night, I saw a tug boat pushing barges of coal down the river. It was a common enough site, tugs pushing barges up and down the river. But somehow, the silence of those barges and the reflection of the bridge's lights on the water and the warm autumn air of that night got stuck in me.

Earlier in the year, I had done some volunteer work cleaning up the banks of the river around the North Shore area. In between picking up empty beer cans and soda bottles, I'd find the oddest things - a child's snow boot, shoe strings, tennis balls, a used tampon applicator, tires. Those things stuck in me too.

When I sat down to write this poem, those pieces of the river appeared. Almost out of nowhere, it seemed. I didn't remember that I remembered them. They were just there. Silent as those barges of coal going up and down the river at night.


the moment the door clicks shut

is a river,
the lowest point,

is singing, heavy at night,
coal barges and tugs,
singing the way a woman sings when
there is nothing left
aside from the empty house,
the leftover whiskey,
the smell of sweat still on the sheets

is the years of things
you wished you’d never said

is the generations of junked metal
on the bottom of the river,
the flat tires and forgotten snow boots,
the accumulation of things no one wants

is a memory,
a drowned photograph,
a flood

is the sound of the tug
which is no sound at all