Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sunday Poem

The wind stirs in the branches of the women
Pure as unthreaded pearls…
—The Thousand Nights and One Night
Sonja is not on this beach as it happens,
but a woman in a black bikini is peeling and splotching—
Please, Woman in Your Black Bikini
put on a shirt and save yourself!        Sonja

is not on this beach today, but a girl,
roughly the age she was,
has turned the colour of
chocolate ice-cream she was, that summer,
a colour still much prized among the young. And look,
there is an adult in deep desiccated brown
to illustrate what fate holds in store for them,

though surely not for Sonja—
because she is not on this beach. Brünnhilde, however,
so athletically hulking, the
dangling drawstring of her shorts
below her strong belly, sun goddess
in cornrows,
is. Planted in the sand.

Sonja is not on this beach but there is
an ostinato rolling with songs, screams, laughter, blue
dragonflying against the drone of waterskiboats,
families spilling out of canoes,
above the pianissimo güiro aspen. And Sonja,

not on this beach, has another emanation in
that woman whose truck is parked next to mine
(pink bikinis must be in style this year)
whom I saw applying lipstick
(which adhered to her cigarette butt),
in her sideview mirror.

Sonja is not on the beach this decade but
a shrieking child on the waterslide, a beachball
barely touching the lake,
a look not entirely suspicious
from a teenager walking through the lozenges of
the waves of the sun in the water
            are. And there’s a gap to represent
Sonja, who is not on this beach to witness
                                                                us, us men,
moving so awkwardly in our near-nakedness—the
incomplete uncoiling of our spines not quite
adapted to our upright posture, stiff rectangle of torso
stumping, the strain of restraining our extraverting
abdomens and the strain of concealing all this—
the lithest of teenagers could scarcely carry it off! Though
Sonja could, Sonja
who is not likely ever to visit this beach
a beach where bottles of tanning lotion continue, innocently, to be
passed, and I am hopeful
of some benevolence for my solitude amongst those,
laid out so larvally in rows,
the deeply connotative sand, and this perhaps illusory
                         sense that there is community on the beach.
From The Civic-Mindedness of Trees (Wolsak & Wynn, 2013) by Ken Howe

1 comment:

Peter Clement said...

brilliantly, cleverly, fantaastically crafted.