06 January 2010

What's out there so far

(Design reproduced from the original by Jesse Breytenbach, with her kind permission)

The eye of the mind, the eye of the heart

In moments of ecstatic illumination,
brief and rare, but memorable,
it can be pitch dark and it wouldn't matter.
Seeing becomes perceiving
and evidence becomes understanding.
You don't need your eyes for that;
you could walk blindfold through an unfamiliar room
stacked with crystal glasses and not break a thing.

Moments like those,
when they do occur,
seem so illuminating that they make you think you see
everything else just as clearly, for a while.
But they're deceptive
as the afterimage of a flash lighting up your retinas;
and before you know it,
you're once again clumsy even in broad daylight
and spilling secrets as if you were drunk.

(First published in Carapace 62, March 2007; and then in A Look Away Issue 7, Quarter 4, 2007)

After as is before

When you go,
silence will fall with the rain
so soft and heavy it's
evident only when a drop
strikes a leaf,
strokes each place in me that is yours,
landing on gestures that
have people pinpointing parallels that
we know for what they are;
such is the power of assumption.

When you go,
I will lose and find and lose again,
I will find and lose and find again
in a process I've learned
can be endured,
can be the reward of endurance.
One way, I am here because of you.
And I'll remain, in a way because of you.
We know each other for who we are;
such is the power of belief.

When you go,
you will have known, perhaps best,
that there'll be at once so much
and nothing more to be said.
And in the ceremony of tears I will
stand and feel your falling
with the silence,
with the rain;
and be forever traced,
borne and bereft.

(First published in New Contrast 142, June 2008)

The weak spot

There is a place for him in her heart.
A weak spot
like a sprained wrist that
years later
gives way under an impromptu handstand.

(First published in New Contrast 143, September 2008)

Rest for the third eye

I want the sleep I used to have
when the fall was shorter
and the rise longer;
supreme sense of comfort in each -
a taste craved by the mind.

Tongue stilled,
silence gained.

A shift
to which gravity is beside the point
and thus is neither plummet nor ascension
but something in between -
a kind of suspension.

Movement enacted by thought in the vast velvet sea.
A kind of meditation, humbly meant.

Yet I continue to lie awake.

(First published in New Contrast 147, Spring 2009)

At table we met

At worst, and rarely,
you reached down into my throat
and pulled me inside out,
spreading every visceral element on the table before you,
pointing and identifying,
presuming the past, pronouncing the future.

At best, and much more often,
you opened the curtains,
your hands warm as the sun,
your gaze fixed on me.
From you, I received the gift of successive awakenings to joy,
invaluable breakfasts.

Burned but simmering,
you frog-leapt over the present and into the future,
asking what if again and again,
with the false certainty that a question sometimes brings;
trying to create what you had imagined,
trying to capture what you had created.

You didn't want information,
you wanted to be spoon-fed.
Like a child with Asperger's,
for you each morsel had to be laid out on the plate just so,
else the entire meal was inedible;
the whole less than the sum of its parts.

This is the role we sometimes play:
to be another's mistake.
We cannot help but learn from the lesson ourselves,
and if we're lucky
there is good in the good and good even in the bad;
and though the fairytale ends in nothing like happily ever after,
what comfort there is
just in the after;
what nourishment there is
in successive simple meals.

(First published in New Contrast 148, Summer 2009)