Since cleaning up my office, I have found my old book of poems I once kept, like a gospel of my past, on my bedside table. Much of this childish writing is flawed and repetitive, derivative and self-indulgent, and yet I still am rather glad I have it. Each poem opens a window to my thought processes and beliefs as a young adult. Better than any journal, poetry reveals the love affair I had with language, and with images of reason. I guess since I have had time to cull the many layers of product and superfluity I have hoarded over time, it’s appropriate I should have the opportunity to look back on my expectations as a young woman, and see where and how I began.
There are a few poems that I really like though, even now. I’ve decided to put a couple of these into an extended entry for anyone who is interested in the rambling commentary of my youth.
It first wrenches me as I sit, poring
Over a fountain of Bickering Literature
So that I am frozen,
And Ache is ignited deep within my flesh.
Like fire it begins to creep,
Burning all in its path,
As crackiling and writhing and screaming for
Release, it’s nourishment: a burning child, trapped
In a burning cot, blistering
And boiling in a desert of heat; agonizes,
Terrifies us with its pitiful screams until
Suddenly – it simmers. And the snake of a fire
That slithered and shot its sharp twin-tongue
Out – to lick its kindling – sizzles and dies.
I release my clenched fists
And regard the red crescents pierced into my palms.
Now, a dampness, dankness sets in.
The stone coldness of a corpse’s hand
Grips, and tightens. It throbs,
Petrifying with its icy touch.
The Ache grows, sprouting limbs, bearing
Fruit, gaining weight, violently writhing
And swaying in the icy breeze.
Beating – against a closed door in the darkness.
How will it feel if the Ache is let in?
Three Photographs and a Mirror
Four faces eagerly stare back
Narcissus couldn’t want more
Four ages of me, whose likenesses appear
Bold audacious energy
From the first face,
Of the changes to follow in that determined
Slightly softer, innocence
From the second eyes, blush
The jaw weakened – determination is
Hope radiates from that third
The eyes sparkle, but no longer
The sprightly simple innocence that was
There is no admiration
That other face: just a sunken
And the eighteen year old desire
Of a whore.
And one day soon that fire
And Narcissus will fall into
And desire will issue from those eyes
Not beyond youthful
I trace creases in the once
Skin, reflecting on Nature’s Tooth
These mirrors that I hold
Reveal that noone can
Because the certainty of aging cuts me
To the core.
She reads with her eyes open
She cradles the page in her hand
She counts the beats in every line –
She tried to understand.
She knows the language before her
Each letter, each word makes sense.
She feels at one with the author
As she reads with reverence.
Yet she is still the Reader,
And the words she reads are strange
And as she reads the author’s words
Their meanings shall change.
She aspires to the warmth of meaning
Though her author’s thoughts are unknown.
But she will find only paper and ink
And words, as cold as stone.
The panoramic view is quite possibly superb.
She basks in the liquid warmth of her morning.
Not even the breeze can stir her waking sleep,
Where light plays havoc with the colours in her horizon,
And darkness is captured in her still childish eyes.
Touch her, and she ripples.
Desire darkens the wide-focus view.
Clouds creep over the hollows of her eyes.
Her lips grow dark, her tongue oozes,
The aura droops, the warmth grows feverish.
The midday sun is obscured by smog.
There is a brief eclipse, and she is gone.