From blossoms comes this brown paper bag of peaches we bought from the joy at the bend in the road where we turned toward signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands, from sweet fellowship in the bins, comes nectar at the roadside, succulent peaches we devour, dusty skin and all, comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside, to carry within us an orchard, to eat not only the skin, but the shade, not only the sugar, but the days, to hold the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live as if death were nowhere in the background; from joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing, from blossom to blossom to impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
The still grey face and withered body: without resistance winter enters in, as if she were a stone or fallen tree, her temperature the same as the landscape's — How she would have complained about that, the indignity of finally being without heat, an insult from the particular god she believed in, and worse than the fall that killed her — Now a thought flies into the cemetery from Vancouver, another from Edmonton, - and fade in the January day like fireflies. I suppose relatives are a little slower getting the evening meal because of that — perhaps late for next day's appointments, the tight schedule of seconds overturned, everything set a little back or ahead, the junctures of time moving and still: settling finally into a new pattern, by which lovers, hurrying towards each other on streetcorners, do not fail to meet — Myself, having the sense of something going on without my knowledge, changes taking place that I should be concerned with, sit motionless in the black car behind the hearse, waiting to re-enter a different world.
Digging . Between my finger and my thumb The squat pin rest; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in rhythm through potato drills Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly. He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep To scatter new potatoes that we picked, Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog. Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, going down and down For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head. But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.
I Arise From Dreams Of Thee . I arise from dreams of thee In the first sweet sleep of night, When the winds are breathing low, And the stars are shining bright I arise from dreams of thee, And a spirit in my feet Has led me -- who knows how? -- To thy chamber-window, sweet!
The wandering airs they faint On the dark, the silent stream, -- The champak odors fall Like sweet thoughts in a dream, The nightingale's complaint, It dies upon her heart, As I must die on thine, O, beloved as thou art!
O, lift me from the grass! I die, I faint, I fall! Let thy love in kisses rain On my lips and eyelids pale, My cheek is cold and white, alas! My Heart beats loud and fast Oh! press it close to thine again, Where it will break at last!
Breathing Space July . The man who lies on his back under huge trees is also up in them. He branches out into thousands of tiny branches. He sways back and forth, he sits in a catapult chair that hurtles forward in slow motion.
The man who stands down at the dock screws up his eyes against the water. Docks get older faster than men. They have silver-gray posts and boulders in their gut. The dazzling light drives straight in.
The man who spends the whole day in an open boat moving over the luminous bays will fall asleep at last inside the shade of his blue lamp as the islands crawl like huge moths over the globe.
To a Cat . Mirrors are not more silent nor the creeping dawn more secretive; in the moonlight, you are that panther we catch sight of from afar. By the inexplicable workings of a divine law, we look for you in vain; More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun, yours is the solitude, yours the secret. Your haunch allows the lingering caress of my hand. You have accepted, since that long forgotten past, the love of the distrustful hand. You belong to another time. You are lord of a place bounded like a dream.
Alicante Lullaby . In Alicante they bowl the barrels Bumblingly over the nubs of the cobbles Past the yellow-paella eateries, Below the ramshackle back-alley balconies, While the cocks and hens In the roofgardens Scuttle repose with crowns and cackles.
Kumquat-colored trolleys ding as they trundle Passengers under an indigo fizzle Needling spumily down from the wires: Alongside the sibliant narhor the lovers Hear loudspeakers boom From each neon-lit palm Rumbas and sambas no ear-flaps can muffle.
O Cacophony, goddess of jazz and of quarrels, Crack-throated mistress of bagpipes and cymbals, Let be your con brios, your capricciosos, Crescendos, cadenzas, prestos and pretissimos, My head on the pillow (Piano, pianissimo) Lullayed by susurrous lyres and viols.
Dreamland . When midnight mists are creeping, And all the land is sleeping, Around me tread the mighty dead, And slowly pass away. Lo, warriors, saints, and sages, From out the vanished ages, With solemn pace and reverend face Appear and pass away. The blaze of noonday splendour, The twilight soft and tender, May charm the eye: yet they shall die, Shall die and pass away. But here, in Dreamland's centre, No spoiler's hand may enter, These visions fair, this radiance rare, Shall never pass away. I see the shadows falling, The forms of old recalling; Around me tread the mighty dead, And slowly pass away.
The Starry Night That does not keep me from having a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. — Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother
The town does not exist except where one black-haired tree slips up like a drowned woman into the hot sky. The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars. Oh starry night! This is how I want to die.
It moves. They are all alive. Even the moon bulges in its orange irons to push children, like a god, from its eye. The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars. Oh starry starry night! This is how I want to die:
into that rushing beast of the night, sucked up by that great dragon, to split from my life with no flag, no belly, no cry.
To The Whore Who Took My Poems . some say we should keep personal remorse from the poem, stay abstract, and there is some reason in this, but jezus; twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have my paintings too, my best ones; its stifling: are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them? why didn't you take my money? they usually do from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner. next time take my left arm or a fifty but not my poems: I'm not Shakespeare but sometime simply there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise; there'll always be mony and whores and drunkards down to the last bomb, but as God said, crossing his legs, I see where I have made plenty of poets but not so very much poetry.
lady . Lady, your breasts are two little girls jostling each other in play when you wash. The rainbow of your glance is suspended in the lather. To look at you one wouldn’t guess you suffer, wouldn’t know that at the foot of your washtub you hoard part of your story. You give a whistle, your whistle is a thread where you will hang your tiredness. The wind is a mischievous lad who tugs and tugs at your laundry. On the trees of the east the sun is a newborn baby scattering his warm yellow tears.
Love's Philosophy I. The Fountains mingle with the river And the rivers with the ocean, The winds of heaven mix for ever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single, All things by a law devine In one another's being mingle-- Why not I with thine?
II. See the mountains kiss high heaven And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdain'd its brother: And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea-- What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?
there’s a little light snow I’ve reached this city’s outermost edge at once, the rivers calm down the sun between dry grass and branches is tormented by the severity of winter an expanse of uncultivated ground a few dogs iron-sheet sheds a child playing in grey fog in the swamps I see a freshly-dug grave which looks like the breast of a virgin girl a sprinkling a snow covers it written on the unfinished headstone are the words Here lies . . . a migrant worker in the city, who came to a sad end, calmly she lies in the midst of water I can almost here her breathing underground her breath pierces the deafening noise of the city
And So We Have Arrived Louis Dudek From: Europe. The Porcupine's Quill Press, 1991
And so we have arrived. It narrows into the thin St. Lawrence. Yet a river with a city inside it, with a thousand islands, as Cartier found it, as Cabot discovered (I saw his face in the Ducal Palace in Venice). We have our physical heroes, and are also a nation built in the middle of water. Somehow a bigger place than we left it: a country with certain resources, and a mind of its own, if lacking hunger. The mountains of Gaspé doze, reclining, in the air vacant as morning. At home, there will be faces full of this light, blank maybe, but beautiful. Getting started is never easy. We have work to do. Europe is behind us. America before us