Monday, September 23, 2013

The unsolved mystery of sumac’s fire

I invited silently.
(so sure)

“Speak to me,”
I implored then
with a little sound.
(less sure)

“Show me what is inside,”
I pleaded out of a rising spring
of words living with hope.
(even less certain)

My feet heavy with dew.
Morning sun walled behind the pines
though its arms wrapped around the meadow
and would soon snuff out
evidence on the sumac
     —flames upon flames—
                beads of water shining
                    atop each burning leaf

      I cried!
in frustrated tears!

O excruciating desire

not to hear them say!
not to hear them say

To hear myself
say some, any thing
from inside
that disappearing flame.


  1. They will not say, but show, but you say, and you said, and though the transient flame is other, you did not disappear with it, fortunately, or unfortunately, but inescapably, and you remained the other yourself, as of course you had to, but you said it beautifully...

    I like the kind of Baroque artifice to this, and my favourite line is 'O excruciating desire'.

    1. Robert, I appreciate your attention to this eruption. I may or may not know what you mean by "Baroque artifice" but it rings a nice aesthetic for me. I think I do know, for the form is a little elaborate; perhaps that's part of it.

      I like your meandering statements, because it is a labyrinth we travel. All is true, and nothing is true, in these expressions of what we feel. I am also glad that you like that line best. Maybe it is the zenith and nadir of the poem, and of life. xo

    2. I meant the English Metaphysical (Baroque) trademarks of fancy, wit, speculation and self-consciousness all at a (good) slight remove from undiluted emotion (evidenced by your speech marks, exclamation marks, and the consciously knowing use of 'frustrated tears' and 'excruciating desire' etc.)

      As Amanda observes, there's shift of form, style and mood at the heart of the poem, which makes it very postmodern!

    3. Well that is lovely, isn't it, to connect with a literary genre, not realize or intend it, but have a reader/friend devoted enough to literary form to observe it! Rich life!

      And thanks for the second para. Now I understand what postmodernism is. :-)

    4. Wish I completely understood the term, Ruth. You must explain it to me some time :-)

  2. It seems there is a cathedral in the midst of this poem, around which everything revolves. When I read: "Morning sun walled behind the pines
    though its arms wrapped around the meadow" I could not think of anything other than an apse in a church, light flooding in through the clerestory windows. Sacred acts occur in churches, and something sacred is occurring amidst the words of this poem.

    1. Ohh ... Amanda, yes. Clerestory windows. I did not see that this morning ... yet ... that is just what it was. Thank you for finding cathedral with me in this [for me] most sacred of all places. Where two or more are gathered .... xo

  3. i do not know how to move forward. i FELT the word evidence this morning before reading this, felt it as a vibration from an experience of my own from yesterday, felt the revelation of the word and what is behind the word. and while serendipity perhaps describes the situation from the outside, it is rather what is happening on the inside of this serendipity which feels like fingers plucking us, the cat's cradle.))))))

    evidence, indeed...more and moreevidence!


    1. Erin.

      [emphasis, like a mother might say]

      This in response to your second comment, below. Erin. How could I not feel myself and the sacred all in this response? We are all being extinguished almost as we type, as we feel, as we speak. I only felt the connection, the almost visceral connection that flows in this space between us.

      When I called myself a Christian, in spite of some surface things that did not feel at all right to me in that form, I do believe that I tried, I tried to get inside something when I prayed to God (who was Other then). I tried to get inside God!

      Essentially, nothing has changed. In form, much has changed.

      I feel that you and I, this morning, got inside something that was both outside and inside ourselves. This happens to us so often that we ought, perhaps, not to be astonished at it any more.

      And yet ... I love to be astonished. I don't strive for it, don't ask for it, don't need a cathedral to shock me into awe for it, but when it happens, I love it. xo

  4. very quickly i try to extinguish myself (shame on me for not a moment earlier) and i come back to hear your poem and read and see and know the merging of desire and ecstasy, and i (through your poem, and through your desire and attention) attend the only church i hope to attend, the church of being))))))


  5. What I love most about this, Sister, is the comments following...especially from YOU!


All responses are welcome.