Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

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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