Dirty Gerty's Hurdy Gurdy


Only the poem knows what's true

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dad, Boccioni, Pollock, Chauras, and Teddy

I started Roethke's book, The Waking, which, (I was erroneous), won him the Pulitzer in 1954. It was published in 1953. Even so, after experiencing the first two poems, and his ingenious use of the word pelludious, (poetic license), I went outside, lay on the hammock. I looked up where the leaves of the Dogwood and Oak meet, and thought about nights when I would sit there, and watch as their canopy assassinated the sky's. It also brought me back to my father. He died of metastatic melanoma in May 2010. I wrote this poem after stepping inside, an hour ago, for him. The photographs were just taken... mind you, I may seem hideous as I have no make up on, save for lippie and mascara. Still, when I was in despair weeks ago and walked into the back room and saw Roethke's book, with Georgia O'Keefe's painting on the cover... I could not know it would enhance everything I have learned, and am learning. I even like to believe my father may have had something to do with placing it there... for Roethke was, like me, concerned with the way disparity makes for oneness, and how soon oneness can fall apart. He separated the soul from the body, for a time, only to find the two intertwined, and realize the anonymity of form. By the by, my father always believed in me, as does my mother. I only hope this is a fitting homage, to him... he loved art, and collyrium is a reference to the 50 stanzas of Chauras, lines of which he quoted in a love letter to my mom:

For Dad

There was a night, when Dogwood and Oak
Met each other and decayed the sky,
I lay on the hammock, the words you never spoke,
That space between leaves-stars in Pollock's eyes-
I'd blur the canvas, until the stars exploded
Into strides Boccioni may have painted,
Into what sweet hell as the wind collided,
And collapsed the stars into the dirt?

You will not answer when I break a leaf
And trace a question mark upon its hide.
And place it upon the earth-not within-
So no worm will invade its green,
But surely it will die. And you, within,
You cannot cry at your invaded flesh,
And in your last hours when air collapsed,
Were you oppressed by the worm's weight?

The words you never spoke come and go
As ghosts invented by shadows, but I know
You cannot answer them, so I do:
I tell them, the leaves are heavier
When they pretend to make stars,
And oppress us until we cannot breathe,
And we are locked in a glass box,
Anemones plucked from the real night sky.

If collyrium indents my cheek,
Plucks its petals, until all I feel are bones,
When tears just will not do-to wet shadow-
I cannot drink the rood, and become a ghost.
I feel the worm eating and I want to be the worm,
But even within the earth there is no inward growth.
So I go in and find without, enclose you in the night,
Where nothing can scar you, not even my poisoned sight.

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful poem. Beautifully written. I wish you would try to get your work published. You have so much talent.

    I know I said it back then but once again, I was very sorry to hear of the loss of your father.