The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Nan Becker
One hears it —muted proximities. It is a tender time.
The brown stillness of the ground listens to the waters
rushing loud. The ice has sunk under the countenance
of an ardent sun. Beaks scavenge woozy seedlings
sprouting through scents of decay. Mosses—puny
but steadfast, breathe once more, once more windows
beautifully open to the panoply where singing comes.
The light lingers—listening are the birds who are saying
what they say, "I am here, come." "I am here, go."
They prepare to suffer in the way suffering comes
to who stays for ice and snow, determined weather,
teaching compulsion and inwardness. Things are enough
for not being there, quietly, where sorrows have settled down
—blanketed beneath a wind too thin to leger and would
not guess the unflinched patience of a bird riding the air,
without wonder, just as the sound of leaves collecting
themselves in a little wind, is rain. Words come quick
to name and as quick as said, are mistaken. In this lovely
world, in this night's empty softness, let me not hope
anything from you.
Snow so thick there is neither left nor right.
Distances concave sky and ground—perimeters
whirl. A bird calibrates its flight as would a falling star.
All is close as the most intimate thought, without sympathy
or surprise—pearlescent, incessant, undulant. In this white
night, where any thing is no longer a thing, shawled by cold
and silence, I ask nothing—the nothing everything returns to,
comes from. Regret is only a reflection of a world one never
knew. Often I wonder about how you and I once were. Without
impatience, I remember less and less. Perhaps I am less. Every
earthly thing has happened—why do we live? Joy has not the
certainty of a rock but passes like a wisp of cloud, a thought,
a memory —a memory, delicate, unbiddable and frantic
that leaves us quite alone.
There you are, without reason, a thing unexplained,
woe or hello, the same the same farring away voice,
counterfactual in the habit of living, cupping loved
and ill-loved. What to do with this moment? It is
skeptical knowledge of what happened as what will.
This unconceived dangling present abides in-between.
Elusive as they are, what are memories for? Evolved
to survive shorter lives, the attachments to another,
require suffering. Our endurance begins with grief
unforeseen. The sum of years here—useful and useless,
with all the peculiarities of me, my want of understanding
amid absences wonderful. The past, what was once so
long before me, doesn't stay now, yet doesn't leave.
Nothing I see can answer me. I am here by accident,
weighted by gentle agonies, the undue joys long past
stone-turning. There, pooled in silent-softened memories
—meaning shrinks back. You are gone as I am. Left
is the sun skating off the lake while landing geese pleat
waves. They swerve as if bumped. Quarrels ricochet
back and forth the way talking never stops, then does.
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