To the Snake, Anon

My reply to Jilly’s reply to the Denise Levertov poem, “To the Snake“. Full text in-line below.

 

To the Snake, Anon

Eat thine own tail, Ouroboros!
As I must eat my tale
and know we began only to end infinity,
leaving just our stories forever
twined, wrapped, twisted
as the caduceus we made in the forest,
our bower of staff and wings.

Would you shed me so easily?
Do you not taste of your venom?
Your lie forks your tongue
that such pleasure was not love,
the brush of our skin immortal.

My garden flowered with too much joy;
I cannot regret now
what I will bear alone.

 

The Snake’s Keening
by Jilly

Bright Girl, when you plucked me from
the grass and round your neck I hung
felt your seering warmth
and whispered in your ear the secrets
of a serpent’s curse
the weight of sin and shame I bare
wounded in your ears —

Bright Girl — I swore to my scaled children that certainly
you were sinless! But truly
I had no hope of ever passing your heel, only desire
and be held by you, for that thrill,
which bereft
of guilt, as the grass closed
behind me, and you with that dark
assurance in your eyes,
I shall never share.

 

To the Snake
by Denise Levertov

Green Snake, when I hung you round my neck
and stroked your cold, pulsing throat
as you hissed to me, glinting
arrowy gold scales, and I felt
the weight of you on my shoulders,
and the whispering silver of your dryness
sounded close at my ears —

Green Snake–I swore to my companions that certainly
you were harmless! But truly
I had no certainty, and no hope, only desiring
to hold you, for that joy,
which left
a long wake of pleasure, as the leaves moved
and you faded into the pattern
of grass and shadows, and I returned
smiling and haunted, to a dark morning.

Leap Sleep

 

Ferry breaking ice.  Nantucket MA, 2018
Ferry breaking ice, Nantucket Harbor, New Year’s Day, 2018

 

That unbeknownst to all,
slumber requires
a leap dream –
like a leap year –
an extra turn or toss
of night
to true up
the gaps in our days,
alms, for shadows
gone begging.

And explains, so, finally,
never feeling quite
caught up
to ourselves.

 

 

For dVerse Quadrille #47

Haibun – The Shadow

We live on the Hudson River, and this morning the dog and I sat on a bench watching the working scows: tugboats and ferries, derricks and dredges. I was thinking how easy and fun it was to be nefarious back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – hide a boat in the rushes, muffle the oars with rags, row across in the dark with untaxed whisky. Who would stop you?  I walk past the kayak rental with its bright red and yellow plastic boats. With my now bootlegger’s expertise, I calculate that I could probably stuff in a case or two per shell. But they don’t look dangerous; they don’t make me shiver that they are up to no good. I need creaky oarlocks, pitch tar smell in the staves, long flapping coats, not kindergarten crayolas!

The massive push of the river is indifferent. Its tide, running sin out to sea.

Harvest moon distilled
What lurks in the hearts of men –
Bottled shine, soul burns

 

For dVerse Haibun Monday

Haibun – “Shimo no koe ~ First Frost”

Well, I’m not so sure that frosting the cake or anything else before you bake it is a good idea. Leave it to the Japanese: ‘Shimo no koe – First Frost!”, probably some kind of trick they know how to do – a Samurai baking thing. What if it is a Zen Koan: “What was your cake before it was baked?” asks the Zen Master. “First Frost!” replies the student. I don’t know, it is beyond my limited mind/body duality Western brain. If I tried to frost something first there would be nothing but goo.

Maple sugar drips
Baked long in Summer’s oven –
Cool Autumn Frosting

 

 

For dVerse Haibun Monday