Another Miranda

How can I fathom this spectral procession?
Shall I rejoice that you drape sea-nymphs
with pearls, weave some glowing sea-change
to make courtiers of naught but magicked bones
fleshed, bedecked with rich coral and plumes,
your yearning after flowers? When the vision
doth fade, do we not suffer, being yet more alone?

O strange, that I should want to see beyond
this watery cave to the sunlit air whence came
this gold, these chests, these spars;
to crave speech of other, real woman or man
to see beyond this blackness, stars?

Having fun with Jane Dougherty’s invitation to imagine a story for this painting by Ilya Repin. I couldn’t resist sprinkling in some Shakespeare.

As the Old Gods Will

Sea whispers to me in my drowning dreams,
and you who balance life and death must know
the debt to pay for treasure stolen thus
from those whose hurts and needs you’d sworn to heal—
blood gold with which you build on burning sand
fool’s fort to keep my heart and gift well-hid.

And if I wished to be their sacrifice?
My people’s fear now spills in hissing waves;
they know the sea god means to take his price.
Just hear! His call to me is calm and deep:
a silent slip into a lover’s arms,
brief storm, then stillness, peace—my part fulfilled.

Thanks to Jane Dougherty for sharing her two-sentence story inspired by this painting, and for inviting me to add this imagining of what happened next.

Red shoes and silence

mean tear-water tea. Abandoned things
and I’m ready to fill any pan, pot, rift
you choose, salty-deep. The red shoe
on windblown corner, red car packed,
ocean-bound. I say it’s no proof
my heart exists; this body gushes water
from any careless wound. Like she’s not
even looking my way. Do you say I gave up?
I got tired and gave up? I say I pushed her
boat when the sea was drained dry—
with only my breath, soul’s inky shiraz.

Discard

would it bring you peace to discard
this entire hand of life? to draw again
as many years, breaths, fresh heartaches
theme-park rides? throw it all to the wind
that chaff-blows east from west; stretch
to that dark edge and dive into the wave
that crash-washes all trace of your salt-perfume

when you emerge gasping from the surf
it is a birth; when you emerge blinking
from the dirt-walled cellar, it is a birth
the prairie swept clean, coast swept clear—
even of your own black-cloud faults, beliefs
that you were the hurricane, tornado
lightning arcing from sea to earth to sky

draw again, draw again
see the garden dew-fresh, unflowered, full
only of possible-to-be

The NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 23 is to use a playing card for inspiration. I drew two cards from our Fluxx deck: Discard/Draw and Peace.  

To the poet who breathed her last in this cave

This hollow place with the tide-breeze sighing—

Can I believe that the goddess brought me here

and say that when young dawn stroked rosy fingers

over the damp cave walls I saw your markings

and wondered how they aligned with the stars?

 

I unwrapped this tissue-linen and found nothing

but small bones, bird-fine and hollow, dyed shells

that I rinsed in tide-pool water and gazed at, wondering.

Can I believe that if the goddess brought me here

it was to interpret your breathings, the soft sigh echoed

 

by tide-breeze that vents this star-gazing cave?

Can I believe you once lived here at all?

Because I find only tissue-thin bones, salt-streaked

shells and they don’t align with your markings.

I wait under empty skies, dry-eyed and wondering.

 

When young dawn with her rosy fingers strokes

these open hands I will, with what care I can,

arrange these dyed shells, your bird-hollow bones

into a cairn below your markings. If I can believe

the goddess will bless the shrine, I will take this life-

 

breath and follow fading starlight onto the open sea

once more.

 

With apologies and gratitude to Jenifer Cartland at Poems from in between for this inspiration.

Camlann

Straight to the battle it was

my finger that marked the place

in the Idylls and gravely

she presented the sword of glass

so that he might put an end

to the imposter—to me, pretending—

and thus I would save her innocents.

 

Dreamlike it made sense, the stench

of sand-salt and blood, the drip of fear

and fog. The memory of Thorn

(You can’t trust her) and my

heedless desire to have her anyway

tell me I could be great.

 

Hermit Practice

these hours alone, contemplating

life, and all that it is and isn’t

giving; the small chores, the silences

the singing; small prayers

as if my will is all that keeps you

going in your daily dealings

with the world

 

I read

 

that monk-sailors in skin curraghs

fled human evil (the days scarcely

after King Arthur), the world already too

full; sailing through whales and ice floes

to build huts like beehives, stone

cold and full of other languages:

patience, poverty, toil

 

I just finished reading and am still processing Tim Severin’s book The Brendan Voyage.

Moon

A sea-storm of cloud over just-dark:

brightness beneath, bats whispering

the air out of reach, breath held

 

breeze rattles black cherry

and the moon-rim rises, pulls clear

quivering against blue-black

 

Something more than five hundred

full moons I’ve been alive and why

this one night it transfixes me—

 

How many of those hundreds have I

completely ignored, blind to looking,

blinder to not be transfixed?

 

If it were ten times brighter, twenty

times, would I not soon forget it

just the same? Take all for granted:

 

bat-wing silence, leaves unfurling

in daylight, the rise and fall of waves,

countless fruits dropping to the ground

 

What good is it to notice the fruit

if I don’t look up to the tree? What good

is it to be transfixed by the moon

 

in a sea-storm cloud with you in bed

waiting for me to lower the blinds?

 

Inspired by last night’s moon-sky and a little interchange I had with Meg at Pigspittle, Ohio about Noticing.