June 13, 2003

With Apologies to Walt, Annie and Emily!

Well, it just shows ta go ya... Mr. Murphy was right. If you explain something so clearly that no one will misunderstand, someone will. Despite disclaimers giving credit to another Fred for "Prayer to the Mountains", at least three bloggers attributed it to this Fred. Sorry, Mr. Chappell. I am responsible for the poem below, and hope for the sake of your credibility as a prominent and established poet, that my lines don't get blamed on you. Perish the thought.

I am still growing thoughts on poetry. It remains a foreign language, and I know just enough of it to ask 'where's the mens room?'

"Let these peaks have happened"... the first line in the Fred Chappell poem (June 12, below) crystalized thoughts I have had over the seasons that might say "Let this valley, this quiet place, have happened" and particularly, it is a 'prayer' to not forget what I have seen, felt, known here. Young readers will appreciate this imperative to remember less than those of us who are further along the trail. These things remembered are mine, I have shared them with readers, sometimes with images... 'in clear glass'... as heartfelt expressions of awe and blessing. You may recognize some snatches of lines from the few poems or poetic prose I've put out for public view on the weblog. For what it's worth, here's the poem.

In Living Memory by Fred First June 2003

Declare these things, and testify
See each with insight and speak its name
touched and known,
harvested by word and form, preserved
by points of colored light in clear glass
and stored drying in synapses that hang
like raisins tethered on tangled wires.

Preserve the night of summer light and
Pollen round sifted like fine flour
Fireflies warmed heavy air with cold light
And moon shadows sailed over pasture grass
Coursed dark like liquid ships
in shades of gray the size of meadows
Surged from behind you
spilled under your feet
Poured into creeks and lifted without effort
Up mountains under ground under oaks
To the top of the ridge and were gone. Yet
This too remains.

Sing the wind in winter,
Dense and gray, heavier than air,
That sinks into the valley
like a glacier of broken glass,
That pushes hard on frozen earth, unrelenting.
Recall dreams of Old Man Winter,
From children's books
Cheeks bloated lips pursed brow furrowed,
Exhaling a malevolent blast below
On frail pink children in wet mittens.
You have seen this in your time, and more.

Hold fast to leaves in Autumn,
That wait frail but not without hope
beech and spicebush, Poplar, oak, elm,
For a time to fall. Recall:
You lay on your back in dappled sun
And count above the maples
winged wisps pulled west
Monarchs of air
You tell the signatures of trees
by traces of their leaves, dying.

These things I declare are real as bare toes
among stoneflies and torrents of cold.
Bear witness to them, for
you will come back and visit when you are old.

Claim by memory these moments
And clutch meaning from stones and reason
From under bark and barn boards
Redeem purpose and beauty from under your feet,
wrestle them to the ground
And plant them here in the good Earth
while there is time.
Plant embryos of memory here
So others may shelter in this forest.
Declare these things and you will be among friends
When days become short.

Posted by fred1st at June 13, 2003 07:09 AM | TrackBack

I am left without words, simply emotion. Beautiful.

Posted by: Alexandra at June 13, 2003 11:47 AM

See now, Fred. You wrote, "I'll try to overcome my reluctance and post it here. Shoot. Now that you've seen my wedding pictures, why keep secrets," so, I skipped right to the poem, ignoring that title line, knowing that titles don't necessarily mean anything...serves me right.
I'm going to print out *your* poem to read off-line and comment later.

Posted by: Jane at June 13, 2003 11:47 AM

Memory is an iron cockroach
stuck in a tube of toothpaste.

From a poem that I am working on, entitled "Soliloquy of the Iron Cockroach".

Posted by: Joel at June 13, 2003 06:16 PM

Make that FOUR bloggers who screwed up. ;)

Posted by: Joel at June 13, 2003 06:19 PM

Very nice. You have a way with words.

Posted by: Jeremiah at June 13, 2003 09:06 PM

Very vivid. Also you have a good sense of rhythm, which gives the poem that nineteenth-century feeling and makes me imagine it in an anthology of classic works! Good job!

Posted by: Fran at June 14, 2003 03:06 PM

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