Friday, 7 February 2014

from Blackwater Quartet, selection 1

Blackwater Quartet, except perhaps for a few secondhand Internet copies, is out of print. In this occasional series, a poem will be selected from the book cycle, and posted here. Selections are random, and may be from any of the four books.

Emblem Heart

High in the cedars a tatter of crows
against the crushed red of October light,
our own steps sharp in frosted sequence—
who could have known all was mist
and vanished as it came, zero presaging zero?
Iron cold shakes the tangle of streets,
the broken necklace of voices scattered
and a universe of leaves upturned,
this folly of intent blown
helter-skelter in a breath, matted colours
edged beyond the fi rebreak rakes
and bare trees’ clatter.
Your touch is fire and ice, your voice
the wind’s toy, urchin, a fired-earth weather
and wilderness road—
from warm damp and the seedling’s push
a summer fixed in brightness
unravelling in the air.

Such memories distract.
The glassy pond is crazed and the world
swims through its own distortions,
is torn and changed as landscapes change,
climates circle, and the generations are achieved.

We are reconciled to cold,
to water’s suppleness suspended.
Autumn is mouth-shaped, each breath
an island of expectation vanishing as it forms.
It is a kind of belief, each voice
above the silence, each grid point in the A-Z
transcending streets of better days, promises
in rooms without memory now,
a little shelter and a grudging peace.

October sinks on dirty wings.
Bold birds poke bins with coal-chip beaks,
strut brazenly through indifferent crowds.
We become what we believe,
the nothing of everyday remade, nudged
change by change to imitate a life
as though the world still turned,
turned too, the room within the world.

copyright 2004-2014 Estill Pollock

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