Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Bather




The Bather

My  fused fingers
move fretful on the page
like the tired, falling fringe of leaves
on a north ruffled tree;
I tried, I tried
to plunge above my head,
to dive below the dragonfly's playground
down where the bones 
lodge deep in the mud
I tried
to ride the roar of tumbling surf
but I'm only a bather in a shallow brook
that winds through the flatlands
lost at last 
in fathoms deep ocean;
 there I was
found wanting again
tho I stained red the river run
with (inked) heart's blood in buckets
tho I roofed your dead tree perch
with (runed) blue sky, made the crickets
sing your name in unison
(perhaps not intelligibly)
 in Chinese
still I
was found wanting, 
lost
and you--
what you want
could not be filled with any of these.
Your great heart is scarred in every chamber.
Through it the winds whistle
in  tuneless blows while the
words I spoke in invocation--

what ghost was that
I saw
on the water?


~September~October 2012









Posted for   real toads
Kerry's Wednesday Challenge: The Unreliable Narrator
Because what could be more unreliable than the lover's perceptions of herself and the Other?

Optional Musical Accompaniment




Image: The Bather, 1891, by Berthe Morisot
Public Domain, via wikipaintings.org

27 comments:

  1. But...i'm dancing as fast as i can!
    How true, hedge
    We try to feed the voids we sense.
    Try to be, to give, what we think they want and need.
    But the truth is, they don't even know what that is.
    Therein, drifts the ghost
    The opening lines were a great set up.
    ~rick

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    1. Thanks rick--the grand illusion, yes? But still, wouldn't want to have missed the party.

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  2. I love it, I love it, I love it. Led Zep is one of my faves, the painting is exquisite, and the poem is so evocative that I must return later when I once again have use of my injured finger so that I can comment you an essay. Incredible work.

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    1. Thank you, Shawna. No essay needed, but sorry to hear you hurt your finger--hand injuries are really annoying for the keyboard thing. Re: Led Zep~I hated them back in the day(I was into folk music at that time--also drunk stoners used to play their records over and over and over and...) but now I love them, especially Page's amazing guitar work.

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  3. Lovely use of line and sound to create a powerful voice

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  4. I love the beginning and the descent into seeing spirits or madness?! Well Done...such great imagery :D
    I love these lines:
    " My fused fingers
    move fretful on the page
    like the tired, falling fringe of leaves
    on a north ruffled tree;
    I tried, I tried
    to plunge above my head,
    to dive below the dragonfly's playground
    down where the bones
    lodge deep in the mud"

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  5. Just brilliant, Joy. This is one I must read again immediately, and one to return to again, when I need to be inspired by the best of writing available on the blogs (or anywhere else for that matter).

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  6. ... 'lost at last in fathoms deep ocean'~~ is the struggle ultimately worth it? I hope so, but it hasn't always worked for me. Beautiful poem.

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  7. Ah. This is a very interesting poem. The narrator certainly a bit slippery - perhaps all that water - the beginning is really just lovely and the diving below her depth with the bones and below dragonflies -and then she gets really quite suspicious (to me anyway) with all that blood red water - she must need to bathe a lot indeed - (where's the old spot remover when a lady needs it?!)

    But as much as I love the beginning lines - they are so lyrical - the real magic begins for me when she's trying to get the crickets to sing and they kind of flunk out - and the whole idea of them doing it in Chinese (which may be kind of successful given crickets and Chinese) is just brilliantly evasive and wonderful and the many layers of wanting here - being found wanting, and wanting and not fulfilling wants is just terrific.

    And along with the ghost I'm thinking a bit of 'my precious.'

    Great rhymes too. k.

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    1. Ha! Yes, exactly--we get so wound up in our passions, buckets of red heart's blood and all. Thanks much, k.

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  8. Everytime I come here, Hedge, I get a jolt. I never know what 'voice' I will be hearing, reading...and that is a tribute to your talent and imagination.

    I don't want to pigeon-hole you, but you have a strong and definite Celtic voice, and then again, you have this today....beautiful, evocative of an inner life that spirals outward to others experience.

    The crickets speaking Chinese....LOL! That was a stroke of genius!

    This whole piece fits so well together, with a lyricism that is obvious and enchanting.

    What a pleasure it is to read your work.

    Lady Nyo

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    1. Thank you Jane--not sure if there's much Celt in me, but then the Celts and the Nordski's did a lot of interbreeding way back when.

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  9. ha i like the turn in the very end hedge, so was it yourself you were looking at the whole time with the scarred heart and trying to fill....and now that k says it i def feel a gollum a bit as well...hey we are talking madness anyway so...smiles...an enchanting piece hedge...wonder if i can get my crickets to chirrup in chinese...smiles.

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    1. It ain't easy. ;_)

      That's an interesting take, bri, about the heart--not actually what I intended, but I think possibly very true.

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  10. I agree with Jane and the Celtic voice thing.
    Your poem is as beautiful as the painting.
    The painting is as beautiful as your poem.

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  11. There is definitely something about water and spirits. The life giving properties,maybe. The images are so thought provoking. I feel a freedom to just go with them. To my own shallow brook. Great hair on Page and Plant. Is that JP Jones on Mando? You find the best videos.

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    1. I also (predictably)love the hair.That's the Earl's Court concert, and that would be Jones. One of my fave ever tunes, though as I said above, my liking for the Zep is of quite recent date. Always good to see you dipping a toe into the water, Scott-thanks for reading.

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  12. "found wanting"

    reflection that reminds me of "The Mirror" by Sylvia Plath where it is the mirror who speaks; and also makes me want to sing "I'll be your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground and/or Ian and Sylvia

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  13. So perfect, Joy, the painting, the poem, and the music. Almost a hundred years between the painting and the music, but somehow they all fit together. You are a superb poet.
    K

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    1. Thank you, Kay. Really enjoyed your Twain/Longfellow travelogue the other day.

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  14. Oh...Hedge the alliteration and lyrical quality of your opening portion is just pure magic...I use that word with you a lot, but I mean it...MAGIC!

    This poem really conjures the feeling of longing, of wanting what one can't have of seeking to please.

    Very well written and the accompanying image and music are such wonderful additives for this post. :)

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  15. I love the heart scarred in every chamber through which the wind whistles.........great line. And love the sudden query about the ghost on the water.......total switch in focus. Perfection.

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  16. A heart scarred in every chamber..the music, image and words work beautifully together...I wonder too about the ghost in the water...so lost she doesn't even recognize her own face.

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  17. ditto to everything everyone else said! stunning, Joy! and gorgeous painting!

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  18. This just breaks my heart. t seems that every time our hearts are broken, it is not just that moment's pain that we feel...there is a strong echo from every previous time woven into it, as well. There is nothing more disheartening than to give what one feels is the best of one's self, only to discover that that isn't enough. It's very very harsh stuff to take.

    If this narrator is unreliable, I think it must be to herself. Hearts are always unreliable in some degree, especially and particularly one's own.

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  19. "I tried, I tried"....

    Sense we know this is an unreliable narrator, makes me wonder if she isn't full of excuses and half truths here. I know so many friends that "rant" about certain situations and I wonder if they are even talking about the same thing they have been complaining about for months. I sometimes point out such inconsistencies with little appreciation ;P

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  20. "Your great heart is scarred in every chamber," her projection, her assumption, and yet it is also her truth. We so often rationalize the demise of love, and it takes us to depths such as she describes, the bones on the floor of the lake... it's hard to believe she is unreliable, and yet, she could be a completely self-absorbed fishwife, but you'd never know it from her internal monologue. Brill! Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/10/11/manly-men-real-toads-abc-wednesday/

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg