Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two More

I've never been much of a poetry writer, and until recently I hadn't set my hand to one in some fifteen years. I'm not sure why I've felt inclined lately (although I can guess).

I've also never been a big fan of formal rhyme, which in unskilled hands can lapse into the sing-songy, stilted, and sentimental. Thus this attempt in sonnet form:

Daughter's Day

Girl rides her horse with childlike gravity;
Defiance thereof, perhaps, makes her rejoice
To cross this paradise of grass and trees
In summer's silence but for the crickets' noise.

It never will be simple like this again:
The girl and animal, a space to share.
She brushes Princess Star and looks within
The foreign eyes, interpreting their stare.

The horse's muteness sobers and puzzles her;
She seeks to draw her into consciousness.
About the lives of others we can infer,
Propose, conjecture, extrapolate at best.

She parses difference, intuits "same,"
Explores, enlarges, and learns the limits of "tame."

And this one indulges my weakness for the subjective sublime, and for a very conventional pun:

Carolina Beach

Boy hurls himself against the surf, as sun
And sea contend on the ribboned anvil of rock,
Or tiny rocks, the sand, the earth ground down
Into flowing stone. The boy is one
Of mine, a drop of sea-stuff bound in bone
And sinew, fired by solar elements,
Warmed to the point of restless self-regard.
We came from there, I think, correct myself--
Not we, but bits of matter did congregate
In acts of whimsy, once, until the game
Developed needs, demands, to be gratified
Or denied. The water waits with awful patience,
Inscrutably, for what I do not know.
The sea is self-estranged; its progeny
See its depths as alien, visceral.
The ocean swallows the sun, in dreams at least.
But I think otherwise: the sea will boil
Five billion years from now, when all are gone.
But now I watch my son, scorched by our star,
But cooled by salty spray from the abyss,
Stand before a towering wave, which swats
Him flat onto the river of scraping stone.
He rises, laughing: son is victor, now.


Anonymous said...

The blissful ignorance and innocence of pre-knowledge/experience...the ecstasy of discovery and knowing knowledge...and then the misery of having known. Nostalgia?

'the limits of tame' - tame as an ill advised mode of living? or realisation of the impossibility of taming the human beast?

retriever said...

You are a true Renaissance Man! I love the one about your boy and the sea. Especially that "The water waits with awful patience..."

Of course also morbidly reflecting on a friend's sister who, one day fifteen years ago, carefully folded her clothes on the beach and walked into the ocean and swam out deliberately until she drowned. My friend, a devout Christian, still blanches and trembles as she recounts it.

Also like the "sea will boil Five billion years form now..."

As far as the daughter and horse, I must be as forgetful as an 80 year old: I thought you had 2 boys...The girl and her horse. My father used to say that horses and riding lessons were safer than a daughter discovering boys too young. We had ponies as little kids (abominable biting Shetlands that ran away, and leaned against thorn bushes and tried to leave one on lowhanging branches, and we adored them). I think young children especially love the feeling (as one gets to be a better rider) of being a Centaur. A small, not yet full grown person loves imagining themself a powerful mythical creature. And all the amazing stories about warriors and horses. Has she read Lewis' "The HOrse and His Boy" yet? Despite the boy title, it has one of CS Lewis' better female characters in it (a way cool runaway princess who is far better on horseback and at strategising than the boy she takes up with).

Obviously there are those who snicker and make snarky comments about girls riding, but I see so many kids here now who (like my sibs and I) develop poise and confidence learning how to ride, and the exhilaration of a gallop!

Have you taken her to a polo match yet? Those guys are gods in human form...charging down the field, secular cavalry officers.

But anyway, I am really enjoying these poems. Subjects dear to my heart, and I love the mix of classical allusions and science and careful observation of the real and expressing what is underneath.