Monday, July 16, 2007

Poem: Libera Me Domine

I. The Snake

Smooth curling flesh, divider of light
And darkness, I will grab you by the neck
And not let go. Flow in the warm river of my body,
Gorging on hope and dreams, I will choke
Your ecstasy in the grip of my determination.

Twist and wrap around my heart, damn you.
In faltering moments I may stumble, but I will not
Lie down. Strike my tender spots, whip my face,
Raise a red welt for the whole world to see
And wonder, I am beyond embarrassment.

Poison my weary mind, seduce me with your
Venomous promise of rest, I will yet hang on
To an iron rod with my free hand, still strong.
I shall drive my fingers into your bitter darkness
And back out again into the sweet white fruit.

Snake of filthy waters, I will purge your ugly stain
With a clear torrent from the deep blue well of life.
Let my issue of blood pool and dry beneath the green
Delicate fronds of moss and maidenhair bordering
The spring, just beyond my tired aching fingers.

God, how I hate snakes! Hanging onto reptile rage,
Dare I ask for deliverance? Afraid of letting go,
Shall I find healing relief? Cold brutal scales,
Set in repeating bands of ochre and black, I find
No comfort in the illusion of your perfect symmetry.

II. The Stone

Born of silent deep blue waters,
Ancient mineral stone, cut without hands,
Worn by years of turning over and over again,
Back and forth in traveling tides,
The stone, the smooth rounded stone,
Now rests in my pocket.

I do not recall much of the day
We picked it up off the cold wet sand,
Admired the simple shape,
The silken patina of some distant place--
Gathered with common shells and driftwood,
The stone was a treasure.

Remembering you, I unconsciously reach
For the stone and turn it over and over again
Between my fingers and palm, rubbing in
The oils and sweat from my hand,
Warming the cool surface,
Polishing the rounded edges
With an essence of life.

At times I weep for the smooth touch
Of your hand, a silent glance
From your glistening deep blue eyes.
And I hold onto the stone,
Moments from some distant place
Worn smooth with time, turning them
Over and over again in my mind.

My stone is a treasure, I will not let go.

III. The Tree and the Hawk

Three outstretched limbs rest against the cool gray
Of November sky. What is it that lifts them up,
Embracing the stars? I watch the saga of seasons
Struggle against the resilience of oak. Buds no longer
Burst out in early April, spinning chartreuse energy
From the sun. The thick old tree stands tall,
Well acquainted with time, unconcerned with gravity.

Piece by piece, wind and ice have stripped away
All but the most rugged branches. Shards of bark
Quietly let go, revealing golden wood that silvers
With each setting sun. A new wave of young trees
Reach up around the old sentinel, garnering strength
From aged humus. Gone are the filtered shadows
From dense leaves that once portioned the light,
And hungry the saplings bristle towards the sun.

Facing the aura of morning and ruffled against the wind,
The hawk grips his hardwood perch high above
The stone river of quilted steel. Patchwork of colors
Ebb and flow in predictable waves of no apparent
Order. The traffic whines and roars, flies and crawls,
Unaware of its silent surveyor. How curious my world
Must appear through the sharp lens of avian eyes,
Accustomed to the minute details of mice and voles.

Every day over the stone river I glide past the great tree
And wonder how much longer will worn limbs give sanctuary.
I watch the hawk hang onto the tree, holding her up against
The sky. Shall my admiration of resistance overcome reality?
Time and termites eventually work what wind and ice will not
Wield alone. One day the hawk hovers down to the tree,
Lands in the usual place, and feels his perch give way.

Still gripping the familiar wood and beating the air with
Anxious wings, the hawk rises slowly, circles above the tree,
Knowing he must let go. Late in languid afternoon distant
Rumblings ripple slowly through humid calm. Possessing no
More peace offerings of incidental limbs, the tree waits for the
Furious dance with wind and rain. Raging black clouds
Backlit by the pale blue-green glow of deep energy hurl
A relentless barrage against her unyielding trunk.

Taking shelter in thick woods the hawk does not witness
The roar of light connecting his tree to the sky. In an instant
She is liberated to the earth and rests. Now there will be plenty
Of time and dark space for the building of burrows by woodland
Creatures. In the rising fuchsia of dawns, I watch for the circling
Hawk returning to search unfamiliar tops of trees for his favorite
Vantage point, wish to cry out with him, then silently move on.



GeckoMan said...

This poem triolgy was conceived during the time of my mother's battle with cancer and her subsequent passing. Although I did not realize it at the time, it is a reflection of what we choose to hang on to or let go of. Some things in life are simply beyond our control, others depend solely on our agency. Realization and choices are necessarily difficult.

J G-W said...

I'm intrigued by the "stone" metaphor. There's some scriptural imagery this seems to echo, not to mention the LDS history with sacred stones that give us insight into the mysteries, "urim and thummim," "peep stones," etc. I was wondering if you were consciously drawing on this...

GeckoMan said...

The Snake (I) actually came first, as a defiant statement against my mother's cancer. She didn't care for the poem because of the anger and disturbing images in it. So, I wrote The Stone to resolve and balance the dark sentiment. Although the intended metaphor of the snake was the cancer, I realized there was also a veiled metaphor relating to my feelings about my SSA.

Initially, The Stone (II) was conceived simply for my mother, who had a fondness for collecting smooth stones from the Oregon beach. It was my promise to her that I would never forget all the wonderful gifts she gave me. She loved my poetry through the years, and held this poem as her all time favorite. However, I purposefully wove in the spiritual significance of the stone, "cut without hands," referring to the Rock of Israel, Jesus Christ. It was my hidden message of personal faith and hope in someday returning to him as well. The poem is a continuation of the central idea expressed in "Wind and Water," which I had written about 10 years earlier.

The Tree and the Hawk (III) describes an actual tree and hawk that I drove past everyday on my way to work. The poem was started prior to her death, and abandoned because I couldn't figure out an ending. When I returned home following her death, I found the tree no longer standing, taken down by a tremendous storm on the day she died.

Sean said...

i love poetry. though i rarely give time to reading it. poetry has that wonderful ability to create and explore and give life to our unconscience.

gentlefriend said...

I approach poetic talent like I approach musical talent. The world needs lots of us who don't have it to appreciate the few that have it. You have the gift! Thank you for sharing it with us. Please keep sharing the poetry as well as the insightful comments.