Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Estuary




The Estuary
A sestina






In the dream estuary mud is alive with flamingos' coral flow
their yellow toes buried in the face of the mirrored moon
beaks spooning up warm worms that turn on the ebb
of yesterday to bolts of storm-worked silver
among the reedy songs long rimed with salt
that paint a mime's blank white on the changing river.

Summers' weeds black-lace the ice-pock craters, edge in river,
stubbling down to staggered stems where nothing flows.
Still, here we basin weeds and snow together, sweet and salt
spiraled milky smooth, stranded in a sudden fall of moon;
the coming sea that floods each tarnished top with circled silver
cries before dying in our arms, a white-boned ebb.

We are also in that moment, alien and identical, an ebb's
shoulder from the places where we touched. In the tangled river
language of affinity and loss, you write your silver
runes upon my hair; we hear we've lost enough. We sift the flow
for comely bits of iron comedy, for relics of the servant's sinking moon
trapped in columned hours bleached and bleating in their pillory of salt.

I keep my eye on rock-torn shingle whitened by a sepulcher's salt
wound, you watch the blue horizon stretching from this pebbled ebb
to the birth-blood of a blind thing whelping her litters of moons,
dropped to drift aimlessly off on the tick of the restless river
that I have learned to welcome, flood and flow,
as my inconstant lover, servicing me with lenience and quicksilver.

In the dream estuary, wading a hundred thousand silver
roads that ache with snow, winding fingers through a century of salt
I measure each brackish heartbeat in your flow;
I feel you pulse my throat at my own life's ebb,
a meeting where the ocean loves the river,
a shattered, reshaped promise to the robber moon.

I hold you as the ash tree holds her vain-caged moon,
an empty outline far from rock reality's shot at silver,
yet full of light, a fuzzy gilding on the dimples of the river.
I forget the bitter glint of trickling salt,
the painted mime's black tear on this masque's ebb,
remember only what receives us dreaming as the estuary flows.

Between the weeds and snow, flow the moon and go;
the blend and ebb of silver sing together. Neither sweet nor
salt, sea nor river, yet two are one at last and changed forever.



~February 2015




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The Tuesday Platform



"estuary: that part of the mouth or lower course of a river in which the river's current meets the sea's tide." ~dictionary.com



Photo: Allegheny River, Winter
copyright Diana Lee Matisz 2015
Used with her generous permission. Thank you, Diana!

You can find more of Diana's exquisite work on her Instagram page, here, and more about her, with links to all her blogs and her Red Bubble store, on her About Me page.










24 comments:

  1. Such an elegant tale of places of meeting, differences melting into unity… a beautiful, beautiful poem.

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  2. Hey Joy, on phone and train so forgive incoherence and typos in advance. This is a beautiful poem and wonderful sestina-- some times the repetitions can come across as just that-- repetitive-- but here they are like knells of low-sounding bell. The metaphor is beautifully transcribed deeply naturalistic-- especially in the specific very apt descriptions of the wetland and its fauna-- and flora-- and the way it works with light and overflow-- but also in a rather fantastical way in terms of the relationship of the divided or estranged we. I don't think I am quite quoting the movement accurately but there is a beautiful feeling of the unconscious being our somewhat inconstant lover servicing with leniency and quicksilver -- allowing when it does its job properly some relief and even inspiration or ecstasy-- but not always so much. I am afraid to go back and copy and paste specific phrases given the moving train but I especially like the whelp of moons, or litter, the Vain-caged moon by the ash tree, which I also kept reading as vein-caged-- the coral of the flamingos and their feet int the mirrored moon, the mask- masque-- the mime was vivid and worked so well with dreams (though I've kind of adopted Terry pratchett's prejudice against mines), the way the salt works throughout this silted landscape and all the didfernt flows, the lover, the end is lovely-- great music tjere. This also handles the length of the sestina very well-- and the didfernt line lengths work fine. Wonderful work. K.

    Ha! Did lose comment but had saved!

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    1. I was thinking that Estuary is really a very good title for this as it echoes estrus. k.

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    2. Thanks as always for your really wonderful readings, k--you find so much in my words that I only realize after you show me. I really appreciate that, the time you take with my poems and the support your interest always gives me. Estrus is just one example of how you do that--fits well with the whelping moons indeed.

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  3. I had heard before about your wonderful skills at the sestina.. the way you carefully hide that repetition into slight deviations and skillful use of rhythm.. So many brilliant lines here (I mean in how many ways can you describe the moon without it being tedious).. and to use the estuary as a starting point, running through all kinds of splendid imagery and metaphors. Also you passed on choosing end words to make it easy, but rather those words that really challenge.. You tempt my to try again (and this time without the burden of iambic pentameter..) Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thanks Bjorn--yes the end words were a little more difficult than usual, and took some patience. I'm so glad you felt it all worked out.

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  4. Words that paint pictures and sing songs into my head. Brilliant!

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  5. dang joy.
    the length of the lines draw close to prose, the repetition subtle....and really i did not notice until i was done and read the comments of others...it was obvious after that but i was rather lost in the feel and flow of the words...the third stanza is the one that really grabbed me, from its opening line....the contrasts...where your eyes fall...and yet...the end...i like...

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  6. I feel this way sometimes when I walk in a more wild place. Left to its own devices without the hand of man, what we call "nature" throws everything together: the rotting and the fresh, the tender clarity of a seedling and the tangled chaos of the dead and dying, always churning.

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    1. Yes, that's the metaphor here, where river and sea become a third thing that is not quite either, but made of both. Thanks, Mark.

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  7. I'm thoroughly in awe of your writing, Joy (mouth gaping, little bit of drool). I'm not sure I've read a better poem this year. Exemplary.

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  8. "In the tangled river
    language of affinity and loss, you write your silver
    runes upon my hair; we hear we've lost enough."

    I could easily go on for paragraphs and not even begin to touch the mastery of craft this demonstrates. Instead I'll just say that this is breathtaking.

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  9. Wow, I don't know how you do it. It's not just the form, but the fact that somehow you have caught the feel of the water moving, arriving,currents shifting, expanding, and disbanding. I would be curious to know how many hours this required to create, because in the end it sounds as if it it just flowed right out of your pen this way, but I know better.

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    1. Thanks Shay. This was much easier than any of my other sestinas to write, but I did agonize over the free verse version for months. ;_)

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  10. ... such beautiful poetry, hedgewitch ... but who is me to say so ... me commented a few times now ... with no return to my blog ... nor having my comment published ... not a peep either way ... o well ... that okay, peace, poet woman ... may da club be with u ... Love, cat.

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    1. Please see my comment policy--while I appreciate you reading I have no idea why you do so, or who you are. If it is simply to have a comment returned, I am not writing for that. You do not provide a link to your blog, or appear to be linked in to this or previous prompts as far as I can tell, what with a punctuation mark for a name,, yet you expect me to somehow know where your blog is and go unerringly to it. You are under no obligation to read or comment here, and I certainly will never return a comment because someone tries to lay a guilt trip on me. Peace to you, also, whoever you are, and go on your way.

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  11. Where the worlds meet, the veil must be thin ... Your estuary is a perfect door of that, perforce of two firmaments or dominions coming together in one expression, both fresh and salt, landed and wild. This has the craft, compression and dizzy crack-crank of gospel -- pulled and reverenced out of a deep, long-articulated and hard longed-for place. Where does dream meet poem, north meet south, land meet sea, sweet meet salt, oblivion meet paradise, love meet its romancing moon? Here. You go so far (so eloquently, taking time to carefully embroider the tapestry) to account the particulars of this bed deep inside the ear -- like the monk St. Brendan encountered on an island who was measuring out the sea with a spoon), and yet the final truth and troth of the estuary-poem is that such lists of seem and dream, metaphor and semaphore, poem and love-song, all of it sings "together. Neither sweet nor / salt, sea nor river, yet two are one at last and changed forever." Only because, I think, the poem was crafted so. The richness is a soil of both experience and craft -- Years of harrowing before such places can be hallowed; the knight-errant has to get thoroughly perplexed in the mess before the art becomes visible. Very astute work, Hedge, and thanks so much for lifting a torch by that estuary.

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    1. Thanks, B. for your very kind assessment--I love 'metaphor and semaphore."... I hope it does have all those things you see. I also hope it has hope and dream, time, birth and death, the wish that fulfills itself, the thing that gives without taking, and even perhaps a final swirl of mystery mingled and washing in and out of cloudy history for at least a glimpse of uncomplicated moon. That's what I was trying to stumble towards anyway.

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  12. Whew! This is just exceptional! Whenever I am faced with a sestina, I try to read it through once just for the flow of thought and description and a second time to admire the way the words have been repeated. Such a form is a labour of love and it takes tremendous skill to keep the end words fresh. I really enjoyed the read.

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    1. I was *really* tired of the word silver by the end of this, :-) Thank you so much, Kerry. I'm glad you found it flowed okay.

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  13. This is what I call Lucy in the Sky lovemaking!

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  14. ..I'm sure my mind wandered off course a bit here, but I kept thinking of where I live (NC) and its changing terrain - from Mountains, Piedmont, to the brackish land leading into the Coastal area… how each brims with its own kind of life and depends on the other for survival. I have yet to figure out which I love best… yellow toes buried in the face of the mirrored moon" Just a gorgeous image!

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  15. This flows so beautifully and seemingly effortlessly, though I know how much effort it takes to make it appear so! The repetition was like a mesmerizing lullaby into dreamland. Bravo!

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  16. stunning, for all the reasons pointed out. peak form. fluid, viscous, even; potent ~

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