I was like a lot of teenage girls. I wanted to write poetry. I later realized I was okay, but I wasn’t a poet. I had stories to weave and tell, not poems which are altogether different. But I still love poetry. I will never give a book of poetry away. It’s my biggest superstition that it’s bad luck. Right now I’m in a bit of a rut for various reasons. Poetry, for whatever reason, is making me feel better as are Advent preparations. So, for a bit, at least, I turn to poetry to inspire…
The Idea of Order at Key West
She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.
For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.
Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.
Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
Continual Conversation With A Silent Man
The old brown hen and the old blue sky,
Between the two we live and die--
The broken cartwheel on the hill.
As if, in the presence of the sea,
We dried our nets and mended sail
And talked of never-ending things,
Of the never-ending storm of will,
One will and many wills, and the wind,
Of many meanings in the leaves,
Brought down to one below the eaves,
Link, of that tempest, to the farm,
The chain of the turquoise hen and sky
And the wheel that broke as the cart went by.
It is not a voice that is under the eaves.
It is not speech, the sound we hear
In this conversation, but the sound
Of things and their motion: the other man,
A turquoise monster moving round