Monday, November 21, 2016

Cecilia White # 4: silently as

silently as                                                  

at that Hawkesbury river curve
I call Bingen
memory takes water
listing tributaries, inlets, heartbreak
the undertow shucks oysters
with a movement that disturbs
spilling pearls at the feet
of the Lorelei
she keeps the key of sea
close to her lips
waves of ebb and flow
restless to move on. far away

more adrift than afloat we were
heathens, believing spirits would lift
one breath at a time. heavy fog
around the bend. we sent each other
messages in bottles. misshapen air
rocking a boat we refused to name
since ‘elephant’ left no room
to move. over there

on shore the town hall clock
lifts its hands to the bell                                     
cutting sleep into bottle tops
calling them stars. tonight
we are missing in our bed
signing the rise and demise of us
now unsure of each breath
the siren wails

under storm, cloud and silt
would-be rescuers recall
we often fought like that
drowning each other
without meaning. too often
we flattened for days
after kataklysmos, our names dissolving
in each others’ mouth. so water tight

the darkness could not be bailed
we’d search inside ourselves for days
trying to find truth, or the dog
unleashed. they always looked the same
shadows ready to bite. statistics
on the rise. we make additions
to some rough calculation

the sea is always counting
the fabled, the foolish, the fallen
a searchlight traces the dead

night sky: its crystal assemblage
an extravagant form of clairvoyance
if only we had seen 

how the moon treads water
we might have asked more questions
about the tides we charted
the siren and the salt on our tongues
lashing ourselves to damnation

now lost for words we understand
how gesture embraces meaning
and we see, as we lose ourselves
how drowning ends 
less gently
but as silently as french verbs

cw 2016


  1. I enjoyed this several times. A brilliant poem, Cecilia. Thank you!

  2. Well the French in me reacts to the last stanza of course! It's true the French language could be felt at a whispering river ... Anyway it's a nice moving poem and I enjoyed reading it.

  3. Thank you, Beatrice. As a beginner in French language, I discovered its exquisite and powerful forms - and remain fascinated by the subtle shifts in vocalisation/silence that do (not) occur , when compared to in German and Italian. At a first level, the visual is not what is always expressed - small secrets of silence that make it challenging for the listener to know what's going on. I'm fascinated how becoming intimate with language over time reveals wonderful secrets and also resistances. Becoming intimate with a person over time may or may not leave one at the early stage of learning a language of self, drowning in a combination of sounds and secrets. Thank you for commenting!


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