Midwinter Day [Excerpt]
I write this love as all transition As if I'm in instinctual flight, a small lady bug With only two black dots on its back Climbs like a blind turtle on my pen And begins to drink ink in the light of tradition We're allowed to crowd love in Like a significant myth resting still on paper I remember being bitten by a spider It was like feeling what they call the life of the mind Stinging my thigh like Dante this guilty beetle Is a frightening thing When it shows its wings And leaps like the story of a woman who once in this house Said the world was like a madhouse cold winds blowing And life looks like some malignant disease, Viewed from the heights of reason Which I don't believe in I know the place Taken by tradition is like superstition And even what they call the Literary leaves less for love I know The world is straight ice I know backwards the grief of life like chance if I can say that I can say easily I know you like the progression From memory to what they call freedom Or reason though it's not reason at all It's an ideal like anarchism though it's not an ideal It's a kind of time that has flown away from causes Or gotten loose from them, pried loose Or used them up, gotten away no one knows why Nothing happens There is no reason, there's no dream it's not inherited Like peace but it's not peace there's no beginning Like religion but it is not God It's more like middle age or humor Without elucidation like greeting-card verse This love is a recognized occasion I know you like I know my times As if I were God and gave you birth if I can say that I can say I am Ra who drew from himself To give birth to Geb and Nut, Isis and Osiris Though it isn't decorous today to say this instead I say You are the resource for my sense of decorum Knowing you as Ra knew the great of magic, His imaginary wife, and without recourse to love Men and women are like tears I would lose my memory, I would sleep twelve hours, I would wake up And get into my boat with my scribe, I would study the twelve hours of the day Spending an hour in each I would have a secret name I would rush upon the guilty without pity Till the goddess of my eye in her vengeance Overwhelmed my own rage as you and I take turns In love's anger like the royal children Born every morning to die that night I know you speak And are as suddenly forgiven, It's the consequence of love' having no cause Then we wonder what we can say I can say I turn formally to love to spend the day, To you to form the night as what I know, An image of love allows what I can't say, Sun's lost in the window and love is below Love is the same and does not keep that name I keep that name and I am not the same A shadow of ice exchanges the color of light, Love's figure to begin the absent night.
From Midwinter Day. Copyright © 1982 by Bernadette Mayer. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Bernadette Mayer is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including: Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008).
Date Published: 1982-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/midwinter-day-excerpt