Sunday, January 24, 2010

Try, Part II

Back in November when we were still on the island, I wrote a post called Try about taking a leap of faith, about teaching, about poetry, and about failure.  I reread it tonight, and realized that I had never shown you the poem I mentioned in that post.  In fact, even though I am a poet by training and trade, I almost never post my poetry on The Magpie's Fancy.  Thought I'd post this one tonight just for the heck of it.  I wrote it after watching the Leonids meteor shower.  I won't explain it, because I hate when poets do that, but I will say that it's meant to be read aloud.  That first sentence is long and breathless because the speaker is completely overwhelmed with her thoughts.

When I write poetry or fiction, I love to imagine a speaker or character, and just let myself climb inside her mind and heart.  Please feel free to do the same.  

The Leonids
Meteor Shower, Peaks Island, Maine, November 17, 2009

How could we little heathens
have known
that the gods check their watches, 
that the skies over beaches
and horizons 
and channel crossings
where fishes know the old
rock formations carved by the glaciers
by heart--
how could we believe
that those skies
could flash
a matchstick’s scratch
and streams of fire
could rain down 
just like the old woodcuts
in bibles, the end of days?
Only, these sparks 
flying from Leo’s mane
don’t fall for us;
Christ, we nearly missed them,
so bleary from late shows 
and facebook, wrapped
in the worn quilts and scarves I knitted 
on insomniac nights long past.  

What can we make of this?  What 
can we enact, predict?
We gaze.  Stars require that.
Our necks tense.
Out in the channel, 
the markers flash like beer signs;
behind us the city is an odalisque,
a siren luring our eyes 
back to the horizon.
Treachery is everywhere.
Just south, Ram Island’s light
winks, jealous Ares, old
and endlessly erect--
does he ever grow tired
of protecting?  Even his lantern 
is weak, its power on loan
from Apollo.  How could he 
ever hope to compete?
In the end, he and the siren 
are no match for the streaks
of green and gold
that catch us, hold us cold
until their end, 
on the porch
alone in November 
beside the storm’s brink, 
on the edge of a waning crescent, 
waiting for the next
tiny speck
of the universe to fall
whether we blink
or not,
whether we ever
even look at all.