Evening Sun

Rosmarie Waldrop - 1935-
							for Sophie Hawkes

                                                     1

On a balcony onto the Seekonk stands. And full of thoughts of winter. My friend. And drunk with red wine I. Think of the power. Of a single word. Like for example "fact." When I know what matters. Is between.


But how with gnarled hands hold the many and how? The sun and shadow of Rhode Island? Let alone the earth?


Down swoops the hawk. From the sky over Providence. The sky over my head. Down to the leaves inward curled on the ground. But not like buds. Yellow. A cat is buried here and the leaves. Swirl up in the wind.


In the hour of the hawk. What is meant by: I think? Or even: I sit under clouds in which. Rain gathers weight. I sit in my mother's shawl which is. Threadbare. In my head I sit. By the river Euphrates. Strange like water the skies of the dead.


And high from the branches of the maple. Like a prelude to snow. White feathers.

 

                                                     2

But music. Quickens the house down into its shadows. So trembles air in the sun and the shape of the tree blurs as if through a flame seen. Swarms of monarch butterflies stir and brush your cheeks. In celebration. In memory.


Almost visible the words of the song. Leave the singer’s mouth and rise up into the sun. Which goes crazy instead of down.


Floods, storms, fires. But a tank won’t be stopped by a word. Not even if you shout it from the middle of the road, with hands thrown forward and fingers spread out.


Nor by music. Though its power is great. Like the heat of noon it slants between body and soul. Difficult, then. Unaccustomed as we are to beauty. To know which is effect and which cause.


Not merely as a sailor is present in a ship am I. In my body. Intermingled.

 

                                                    3

My father thought he had the gift to read the stars. To know if the light in a person’s eyes. Had gone out. To hypnotize. I stayed awake. Weak in the knees am I. Not a spiritual woman. And pulled toward the earth.


He said, you have to look from afar: what children we are, so gravely at play. In worn out light, in afterglow. Yet fire present is in words.


Which is why we try to read. The stone, the wood and grass, the cloud and lightning and air. And the ancients and poets. And the frogs croak in the swamps.


And to stand. Sky around your shoulders high on a mountain. Or balcony. And know you must cast. Like so many shadows. Your words onto the distance. Or paper. But will they span?


And the next morning you go to the bakery and ask for a loaf of rye. This too is work and without it the dream crumbles inside its glass case. And we must travel the ocean just to see it.

 

                                                   4

With great force our bodies are pulled out of our mothers. And ever since, we walk like almost orphans. With a scar on the brain.


And remember childhood among strings and puppets. Crutches. Knees under the chin tucked. And toy warriors with lance and shield and red badge to ensure courage.


Which we need to live in three dimensions. Of dry air. Or wet. Among gauges for measurement made of wire and string. That my father had looked at before.


And tapped with his finger to make sure. They were steady, not broken. And hitched his pants against gravity and tried to discern. The tether between particle and wave.


Tea has dribbled on his book. The letters under the drops enlarge till a wavy gray absorbs the excess. If however too deep you plunge, he thinks. Into thought. You can’t rest till you get to the bottom.

 

                                                  5

Let us take our time, Sophie, fitting bones to the earth. Though they are turning visible inside the flesh, and our blood. No longer overflows and spills.


Much work still to be done. And the smell of ripe peaches. And Long-Jing tea. And lungs full of words. And being an opaque body that intercepts the rays of the sun.

More by Rosmarie Waldrop

Aging

Aging. Being in pain. Finishing. Rotting.
             —Emmanuel Fournier
 
 

We feel we’ve contracted into very dim, very old white dwarf stars, not yet black holes. Wrinkled, but not quite withered. Dropped out of summer like a stone, we watch time fall. With the leaves. Into a deeper color. Wavelengths missing in the reflected light.
 

The road toward rotting has been so long. We forget where we are going. Like a child, I look amazed at a thistle. Or drink cheap wine and hug my knees. To shorten the shadow? To ward off letting go?
 

So much body now, to be cared for. What with the arrow, lost cartilage, skeleton within. Memory no longer holds up. A bridge to theory and dreams. Impervious to vertigo. Days are long and too spacious.
 

Though the sun is a mere eight light-minutes away elderly dust hangs. Over the long sentences I wrote in the last century. Now thoughts in purpose tremor, in lament, in search of. Not being too soon? Going to be? Unconformities separating strata of decay?
 

You say aimlessness has its virtues. Just as not fully understanding may be required for harmony. And blow your nose. You sing fast falls the eventide, damp on the skin, with bitter wind. And here it is again, the craving for happiness that night induces. Or the day of marriage.
 

The difference of our bodies makes for different velocities. But gravity is always attracting, and my higher speed. Cannot outrun the inner fright we seem made of. Though I gesticulate broadly. As in a silent movie. Running after the train, waving goodbye.
 

Distant galaxies are moving away from us. Friends, lovers, family. Even the sky shifts toward red. Where every clearness is only. A more welcoming slope of the night. And I don't remember why I opened the door.
 

Mouth full of moans, you believe the natural state. Is a body at rest. And close your eyes to the threat of your face disappearing. Without thought or emotion. Into its condition. And I thought I knew you.
 

Are the complications thinning to a final simplicity? The nearest thing to a straight path in curved space? Clouds of gas slowly collapsing? With only one possible outcome? But unlike a black hole I keep my hair on. As I move toward the unquestionable dark.
 

This dark, Mrs. Ramsay thinks, is perhaps the core of every self. The deep note of existence the ear finds, but cannot hold on to. Across the vicissities of the symphony. Or else this dark could be our shelter in the time of long dominion. And though we are not well suited to the perspectives it opens it is an awesome thing to see. Once you can see it.

from "Inserting the Mirror"


Is it possible to know where a word ends and my use of it begins? Or to locate the ledge of your promises to lean my head on? Even if I built a boundary out of five pounds of definition it could not be called the shock of a wall. Nor the pain the follows. Dusk cast the houses in shadow, flattening their projections. Blurred edges, like memory or soul, an event you turn away from. Yet I also believe that a sharp picture is not always preferable. Even when people come in pairs, their private odds should be made the most of. You went in search of more restful altitudes, of ideally clear language. But the bridge that spans the mind-body gap enjoys gazing downstream. All this time I was holding my umbrella open.

 

 

As long as I wanted to be a man I considered thought as a keen blade cutting through the uncertain brambles in my path. Later, I let it rust under the stairs. The image was useless, given the nature of my quest. Each day, I draw the distance to cover out of an anxiety as deep as the roots of language. I keep my eye on the compass while engaging the whole width of the field, and whereas, to others, I may look like a blur of speed from one point in time to another, I know I am not advancing an inch and will never arrive. Even if I could arrive the mirror would only show the other mirrors I have set up at every stop to catch the spirit of passage.

 

 

It rained so much that I began to confuse puddles with the life of the mind. Perhaps what I had taken for reflection was only soaking up the world, a cross of sponge and good will through the center of the eye. But to describe the inner world, you know, by definition, even the patient definitions of psychology, is impossible. Hard to know if it can be lived. Revoked edge of water and dry land. A falling fear. The sudden color of a word. But it's the sky, pale gray, abundantly thrown back from far enough behind the eye, as you imagine an image, seeing earth in every direction.

Pleasure Principle

							     For Joan Retallack

Of course it’s not easy to believe in your own dream. The working of instinct near water. Not orchards. Not apples or pears. Not nowadays. I don't know how psychoanalysis has no hesitation on how dark the night can get. The world, which is unfinished, occupying more and more of the sky.


Emotion as unpleasurable tension, the high passage of the moon. The laundry. Sensitivity won't do it. Therefore and quite often we lie down in stubbled fields. The voice of the cicada. Tells nothing.


Any day lies thick in the garden I propose to enter. Then fills with secret rivers that darkness feeds on. Lapsed sense of history. No massacre. The cicadas relentlessly.


It doesn't matter if your feet are small. When you're asleep. The fruit trees enormous. A motor idles in the foreground. If, with quicker travel, things did indeed turn out according to one's wildest. If a child could be born from something not a mother.


The circumstance that the wife occupies the inner room and rarely if ever comes out is called the pleasure principle. In certain societies. Suddenly made clear by the cicadas. The meaning of life, absolutely. Distinguished from the now moonless garden.


And hooded with fabric like mirrors not in use. And like appearance refusing itself. A pleasure that cannot be felt as such to transcend becoming strange.


An orchard in the foreground. With beginnings of unease immediately behind.