Cette Obscure Clarte Qui Tombe des Etoiles.
To measure it, falling as if seed by seed across The furrows, The horizon suffuse, or A spillage that increases its meaning, As matter becomes shape, Defined hillsides, the marigolds You like, the gardens burst With stargazers and heliotropes, this Light, coming as it does Without relenting in its travels, A sentence itself, moving Toward us, with its unknown Intentions, this light swirls, its great clouds Falling as veils between this world And some other, perhaps dream Or what might have been said, So familiar, we have been Here before you want To say, the lake lies there, The wood just to the right of the hills, Where vineyards tier Down, the surface glazed And without movement. At full noon, what would the stars be But black seeds, lost memories, The soul's anatomy, Outside the reach of examination. * * * Think of the upsurge of birds from the shorn fields, like seeds thrown Across the sky, then dipping, the brush flicking its pigment, the gray crusts of sky-- The straw plowed under, ice intrusive in mud, the world is obscure And takes our breath--is there a word for this, for what is always sliding, tremulous? * * * Crossing Long Mountain, the snow began, the air finely stippled, doubt's gouge, And to think we are to see past this, a geometry forming into perspective lines, Trees crisp cut-outs, branch to branch a chain to hang on my daughter's wall, The light thinning, the beginnings of certain new forms of destitution begin to set in. * * * We are living on the other side of god, and that is not to argue for a return, or swerve Back, but to think of what gift there is now, what tares up, what sanctuary there is After the first word, when others come, all refugees, bearers of their own Promises, the snows early this year, shadows casting their thin blue across fields. * * * Think of birds as an up-welling, a bulge above the coarse thickets, rising As in one breath, the terror of moving as one, each eye, if we could see them all, Dilating, the terror then also of moving in solitude, the space between gulfing Space, then the pull back, toward the amongst, the midst, to something not falling. * * * Looking now, after months of being away, the lake like a screen from the Edo period, Gold fog from the cold and rising sun, lifting and paling, the lake's far side white And green, for a moment outside sadness's claims, a sheen over the fieldwork And dirt tracks, manure lagoons, the cut-out fields, white and running back from the lake. * * * Snow lies along branches: such clarity deceives, a certainty there, and then not, Wanting to know the whole of it, the pulse and release, the whole circling Movement of which we see only an arc, finite though with no fixed number Of points; the snow slides off, nothing comes back as it was, nothing. * * * The balance between void and matter Tips steeply toward that emptiness that must lie before Each birth, as though in that void the conundrum of Something that must be there is what Turned it all inside out, some exfoliation, as in a painting Of Poussin, the dark tree first a stain of absence, turns into The branching of compounded leaves, each shimmering, Or flecks of birds in another painting rising above the furrows, Gray-white, the blanching of August's light settling over Everything, a white dust as though blown from bone-yards, This color, dust-white, turning hill and curve of ground to sky, Turning it all the same. The history of landscape, when Ruth Met Boaz in the fields, gleaner and landowner, cerulean sky And city at the foot of ocher and gold hills, to this Obscure clarity from which stars--like birds or seeds fall, Burnt to cinders, so that if we were to wake in the night Following this, there would be nothing, the sky swept clear, Our guides lost. In that other world, a man hefts a sheaf of wheat To his shoulder, another plays the pipes, the light moves across The waters and hills; in a garden there would be a nightingale, In that other world, where ruin or plague were not admitted. We stand looking at it, its picture, a memory we are still shaping.
JAMES McCORKLE is the author of Evidences, the recipient of the 2003 American Poetry Review/Honickman Award for poetry. He lives in Geneva, New York, and is an adjunct professor of interdisciplinary studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
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|Author:||McCorkle, James Donald Bruland|
|Publication:||The American Poetry Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2007|
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