Wednesday, January 25, 2017

At the edge of language


  The poet—the serious poet—spends considerable time walking the hinterlands of language, exploring that boundary between the obvious and the unintelligible. What the poet brings back from the edge may allow readers the unusual experience of ascribing as much, or even more meaning into the words than were ever actually inscribed. To say more would defeat the point of the poem itself.

At the edge of language


Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her
here, where uncertainty swirls into
     mystery, magic, meditation.

What few trees still stand are dead,
black, misshapen skeletons reaching
out through thick mists. This one
might have been an elm once, or
maybe an oak.
                    There is no way to know.

Boots sink into long dead leaves
and grass, submerged to the ankle
in brown, half decomposed meaning.
Every step is a matter of deepest
                                    contemplation.

Something slithers by, almost…
almost catching the eye, a thing
that feeds on detritus left when words,
thoughts, histories fade from memory—
all shapeless within its long, lean gut.

As I carefully lift one foot from a suction
that seeks to make me one with all
things forgotten and lean the other
into a slow, pungent belch, I’ll catch
a glimpse of her, moving in the mist,
part gleam, part shadow, part
understanding. I can almost make out
legs shifting beneath a gown, possibly
a face, and then she’s gone.
                                               I’ll pause
as my weight settles to a fading hiss,
and after a moment call out. There is
never an answer.

                            Still, I come seeking.

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