Vox Populi

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Dawn Potter: Canto

At the peak of my powers I felt a falling-off,

as if an internal organ had come loose from its moorings

and was bobbing gently against my pelvis like a pear.


The season was autumn. Threads of smoke

unwound from the chimneys. Every compass pointed

toward winter.


I walked out, in the dim afternoon, into the small streets,

through a modest wood, across a vast graveyard.

I read the headstones—


here, the woman recalled only as Mother,

here, Our Darling Ralph, his tiny stone tarnished with lichen.

My way was littered with parthenons and obelisks,


with strange marble tables and mossy

arks of the covenant, and among them

bulldogs rolled in wet pine needles, helmeted tots


wobbled on training wheels, and I,

no longer at the peak of my powers,

turned my ankle on a pebble and limped.


But when I came to the bottom of the hill,

into that clutter of merchant mausoleums

known as the Valley of the Kings,


I paused in my limping and looked up

into the watery leaf-light: pale gold, speckles of black,

thinned remnants of last night’s gale.


And I felt, for no reason at all, sweetened.

Around me, the stony edited lives—

born, married, fathered, earned, died


seemed to swell into ballads.

Carved lions kneaded their claws,

and lost at sea was a cadence.


I was a poet, and I wanted to sing

of small Ralph, alive and perched on his father’s


broadcloth knee, in the November twilight, after the banks

had bolted their doors and the barges had docked.

Now a scatter of gulls sailed over the cove,


and Mother sat alone at her rosewood desk and wrote

Sky. Leaf.  Light. 

I wanted to sing that. And so I did.

Copyright 2019 Dawn Potter

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2019 by in Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , , .

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