Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Let's Go Someplace Darker."

X. The Wheel

This Must Be the Place

You were gifted with the vision
Of the clockwork, which,
Being a scientist, you saw as
Gears, but more than gears, a
Sprung spiral. Two ticks in an ascending
Key, and a dip. And another turn.
And remember, it never goes back.

I'll surrender you the sword
If you give me the Sphinx:
I can track the descendants
Down, unwind four seasons, then 16,
Then 32, turn the number inside out
And learn its secret thus. I see us

Kneeling on marble, stumbling on sawdust,
Padding over moss, swinging from gallows,
Dancing on grain, marching through sand,
Sleeping on leaves, sinking in mud.
Cathars, killed and ill-sorted,
Burned with our books;
My fingers, once fine, scrabbling in
The blighted vines;
The fine-featured carpenter who has outlived
And grieved for three wives, and still without a daughter;
Spies, yes--(as we investigate the impossible)
It is impossible that we
Were never spies, and thieves, those, too.

In all these ups and downs, well,
There's enough pleasure to make it worth the strain.
I remember times I was on my knees for you;
Even these, I would never deny or erase.
And then--here's another--you tracing
The shape of my eyes on a stone.
Another turn, another turn.

My daughter had a dream the other night in which, she said, she was a little curly-haired girl, and a nice police officer was showing her a view of the ocean, saying: That's Atlantis. I asked her if she saw Atlantis being covered by the water, and she said she hadn't been paying attention in the dream, so she only saw it afterward. We talked about reincarnation, and I told her that some people I know who believe in it say they remember their lives, but they all seem to want to be very fancy people, and that there had to be some ordinary people in our past to remember, shouldn't there be? She agreed.

I have a few I remember, but I'm also wide open to the thought that these may be archetypes useful for me creatively and psychologically. No matter what the truth is, that's how they get used, so there's not a lot of value to me in trying to determine the truth. As in most things, I'm primarily interested in how it plays.


Slothrop said...

This poem has impressive energy and breadth - many lives, many bodies, evoked w/ the sparest of language. Brilliant to begin w/ a piercing view into a clock; every clock is a poet if you listen just right. Its metronomic voice abides throughout the poem.

And there's something about the contrast - metallic certainty vs. the hazy mystery of past lives & "another turn" - that summons up both the main schism we feel in life & the male vs. female principle. If the Sphinx knows anything, it's that Life is more generous than we think.

Tangential: on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is the only surviving example of a water clock, or clepsydra (literally, "water thief"). These were once thought to be mythic. The flow of water always struck me as a more sympathetic image of time than meshing gears - anything we call time is a metaphor anyway - & I always wished I had the skilz to write a poem about it. (I tried, but got bogged in the yin yang stuff.) You can have it if you want it.

Maria Padhila said...

just the words "water clock" are going to have my head reeling for a while. ;)
plus: "every clock is a poet" is a first-line contest waiting to happen.
the beginning of that is actually pretty much a literal retelling of what a friend said about a near-death experience, so i can't really take the credit. mrat.