Friday, December 21, 2012

Awaken the Dreamers--a poem for the solstice

Awaken the Dreamers

One blue heron late in December

dreaming the sun down. One egret

walking into deeper water, rippling

the gray pearl of the pond

lit by a low sun moving across the marsh

on the even breaths

of these two birds.

I remembered the way

my grandmother said calmfortable,

the sound thick and slow as the Ohio

rolling through Marietta; photos

of a great flood one spring, young folks

paddling canoes down streets

rolling back to the river. Maybe

we can cross on that one, long syllable

into our own stillness, be calm,

be generous with our words,

roll them in our mouths

back to the source of the river

where the invisible rejoices

to come into this world.

Fill them again

with the sound of rolling water

and the wind that ruffles the feathers of the heron

deep in a dream of its own, watching tides

come and go with the moon as the earth

turns, longing for a way to say

how beautiful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wild Hearts Know to Break is to Open...

That Which There Are No Words For

All afternoon on the oyster farm,
a great egret watched me work,
hoisting bags of oysters out of the shallow water
on to the dock to sort.

It was dark of the moon, tide lower
than I'd ever seen it, exposing rocks,
a pile of culch I'd dumped at the edge of the marsh,
mud speckled with dead slipper shells,
crabs that could be hibernating.

Oysters, sealed tight, holding their
mouthful of saltwater in deep cups
polished smooth inside by flesh
passed through my gloved fingers,
sorting for market.

I wasn't thinking about thresholds,
how often we cross without knowing,
doors opening and closing
without a creak or click
as the latch catches and we wonder
what side we are on now.

My body had taken over:
bend, hoist, dump, sort--
back into the old bag to grow
another winter underwater,
or into a wider mesh
strung on a line close to shore
for market.

I broke apart those that had fused,
pulled the beards off muscles
and tossed them overboard, rescued small crabs
who clung or froze,
imagining maybe then I couldn't see them.

Minnows thrashed in my palms
opening above the water, pure light
and muscle.
I watched their hearts explode
when they hit the water.

I wasn't thinking about thresholds,
I was pushing oyster bags on my hands and knees
through six inches of water because the tide was so low
I couldn't use the boat, sucked down
when I tried to stand,
forced to crawl,
cursing and laughing as the egret
who had not moved in hours
took a few elegant steps, rippling
the calm.

Sitting up,
kneeling in my waders,
waist-deep in mud,
I closed my eyes,
not because I knew what was coming,
but to see in the dark as well.

The white feathers of the egret so fine and smooth.
The marsh, in mid-December, golden.

It was the day before our darkness
made itself known,
that which we'd say about after,
there were no words for--

Crow call in the east answered by one at my back.
Prepare to be emptied.
Why is the death of innocence the only way
to know we are loved?

Jen Lighty, Dec. 16, 2012