Author's Note: My wife Anne and I took part in the old tradition of taking a good long walk on New Year's Day. This year we went to the nearest sandy beach that offered a wide expanse for walkers and provided the impulse for my poem "The Ocean's Voice." The poems "Storm Coming" and "I'm in Tears" also have a seasonal setting.
The Ocean's Voice
Not simply words, even the sculpted words of scrappy screenwriters, but more like Zen meditations of surf upon the shore Child that once was, old man who now relives as ritual what once was adventure Ears, thoughts, cells cleansed by reports of a timeless pulse Heart lifted, feet moving in the wet wintry splay of a long gray apron, a stage set grandly enough for continental drift Days drift with the seasons Now I wrap flesh in layers of borrowed warmth, thick as the furs of ancient animals, and breathe clean ocean air, the pure product of so much watery soul and maritime mortality Tiny creatures ourselves, earnest as a self-sheltered mollusc, crawling crablike to put our toes in the water, if only metaphorically And withdraw, quite promptly, with an oceanic sigh Ocean! you were always my mother And Time, a little stroll on the beach
Why I’m huddled in the chair unable to dip a toe in the big bad outdoors, that kettle of broken limbs, leaves asunder, flowerheads cruelly turned to wasted illusions – the big blast we have all been waiting for (and I alone with dread?) I have charted the safer waters, bundled up with my buddy, Fossil Fuels ploughed the familiar furrows of strong roof overhead, closet full of old coats, windows tight as the thighs of aging virgins… OK, as old books then, poor old geezers, nobody’s fingers having run along their spines for ages with no gentler touch to put them to bed with the speculative contents of dusty bottles No, cold feet and all, I am listed among the lucky ones, warm in certain precincts of the heart, happy in private circumstances, too poor to have wider responsibilities too fortunate to be on the other side of the Goodwill counter Lay it on me, winter I’ll engage for a chilly embrace under a bridge somewhere, toes and fingertips like icicles, counting my lucky stars Orion rising doors wide shut, and the heart’s thermometer trending up
I'm in Tears
Writing a newspaper story about how Creative Institution X will offer this, that, and the other thing to the paying participants in a new, or sort of new, upcoming program staged at a lovely (or surely pleasant) suburban site where relatively few of us will ever worship at the altar of high art Unless of course, in earlier years, our parents were wealthy enough to send us, like little packages of wonder mailed to the future, for the sort of resume value enhancement such experiences offer And, what the hell, I’m just doing my job, making words, the only words for which I get paid … when a melody begins on my desktop computer because that is how I sweeten my time And, without warning, I am thrown into the awareness of being, another being perhaps, in a parallel universe, or (I suppose) simply another place in my head … and find I am in tears In how many worlds do we live at once? How many creatures truly occupy our mental property? I am he who makes words at the keyboard (and wishes to be paid) and he who gazes out the window on a sun-strewn winter day with the solar lust of the eye and whose heart is, seemingly, a blithely unguarded fortress, a citadel for the taking by any aggregation of sounds capable of warming its way inside walls of fleshly indifference, or breaking down a door, or picking a lock with the keys of C, G or D Minor and the voices of the angels
©2023 Robert Knox
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