Hot colors from a chilling world.

“First, I took a running leap,
and then, half buried in the heap
that we’d raked up, I lingered, caught
in a cocoon of leaves and thought.”

That is the first stanza of a new poem by Jean L. Kreiling, which I just read on the website of the Plough Publishing Company. The title is “After Helping my Father Rake the Leaves,” and it is rich with images of the season, “hot colors from a chilling world,” and memories of the poet’s father, who “turned his face into the wind” —  a metaphor for his inspiring life and attitude.

You can read the whole loving poem on the Plough site.

Heads rocking and tick-tocking.

My Kate is arriving by airliner tonight with her family, and I am imagining the little boys with their out-of-sync bodies debarking at a time when they would normally be in their beds asleep. This poem captures some of the sensory confusion of the experience of flying. (‘Kliegs’ are powerful arc lamps used in film lighting.)

TOUCHDOWN

The great airliner has been filled
all night with a huge sibilance
which would rhyme with FORTH
but now it banks, lets sunrise
in in freak lemon Kliegs,
onto swift cement, and throws out
its hurricane of air anchors.
Soon we’ll all be standing
encumbered and forbidding in the aisles
till the heads of those farthest forward
start rocking side to side, leaving,
and that will spread back:
we’ll all start swaying along as
people do on planks but not on streets,
our heads tick-tocking with times
that are wrong everywhere.

-Les Murray

 

Night has gone like a sickness.

At this time of year when nights grow longer, and we can’t get rid of them soon enough in the mornings, now it is, for some reason, that I want to share this poem I’ve been mulling over, about night being gone altogether. Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to live where bell songs would visit your garden at the break of day?

FOUR POEMS IN ONE

At six o’clock this morning
I saw the rising sun
Resting on the ground like a boulder
In the thicket back of the school,
A single great ember
About the height of a man.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Night has gone like a sickness,
The sky is pure and whole.
Our Lady of Poland spire
Is rosy with first light,
Starlings above it shatter their dark flock.
Notes of the Angelus
Leave their great iron cup
And slowly, three by three
Visit the Polish gardens round about,
Dahlias shaggy with frost
Sheds with their leaning tools
Rosebushes wrapped in burlap
Skiffs upside down on trestles
Like dishes after supper.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

These are the poems I’d show you
But you’re no longer alive.
The cables creaked and shook
Lowering the heavy box.
The rented artificial grass
Still left exposed
That gritty gash of earth
Yellow and mixed with stones
Taking your body
That never in this world
Will we see again, or touch.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with father or mother
Than even with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.

-Anne Porter

Purple Star Thistle

Friend Bella and I took a hike early in the morning, into the hills nearby. The slopes all around have gone from the winter green stage on through the golden months, and are now dull brown. But they are not unpleasant to look at from a distance, and in addition to the ubiquitous oaks, bay trees make dark green splotches here and there.

At close range one sees the hard and bare dirt, the tufts of grass withered to shreds, and minimalist lichens on the rocks looking healthy and pretty. Those autumnal scenes are bleak, compared to the real deserts I recently visited. We took our tonic from the fresh air, and I took a picture of the new-to-me and alien Purple Star Thistle, whose flowers beautify the neighborhood, while its thorns warn, “Stay away!” Honestly, I am minded to stay away from this particular park until the rains come and once again water the earth to green.