Reading too Much Roethke


Practical wisdom: Read not too much of poets inclined to depression and naturalism.

"I wake to sleep and take my waking slow. . ."

What waking and what sleep? What images
of all and nothing mixed, all one line one
meaning? The arrow through the small bedroom
with black-framed doors and yellow walls winds up
at here and now by the blue sea rising
only in memory. The sandcastle
crab scuttling through my earliest age,
and the dolphin and the shark that mark my
present time. A friend confided a ray
sounding spoke in salty dialect of
God who is not and hears not or does and
he instead does not hear.
[________________________] This slow waking,
this reach for light that comes when I go as
I am meant to, a sounding, surfacing--
grabbing hollow air to fill a hollow
man is all that moves me now, as I have
no motion that can be moved, no movement
that can mean or be or stay or away
drift--red autumn on dark water. Where I
found myself, between rock and water, soothed
and rounded by the cool swirl, made real by
the insects and fish that move with the true
motion of innocence, of what needs no
redemption because its only fall was my
own fall--pulled down in sullied brotherhood
and brought up again in light and darkness
that mix in the autumn waters of streams
that follow their own motion and make it
{___} To join them then and there in the pools
where darkness cannot consume the light and
all motion moves in secret silence and
what is know is what is seen--innocence
is the unchurned, sun-warmed top twelve inches
still and moving where they must. An ending
that is not seen and so becomes a new
beginning that is.
__________________Full memory is
sorrow, an unending world of shadow
that shifts and shapes a life unlived but walked
through. Who I am and am to be is known
only in the motion I do not make.

I'd like to explain it, but any explanation would take far, far too many words and leave what is here spoken in ways that mean less while they say more.

And I should note that some lines were suggested, indeed nearly cribbed from a great underpublished poet friend of min, Jay Bradford Fowler, Jr. The world is a lesser place without him.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 5, 2007 9:31 AM.

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