Thursday, August 1, 1991


       —from a collage by Marsha Connell 

Is she asleep or dead—
this woman of the landscape?
The volcano goddess Pele's hair across her face—
Epicanthal fold lost in the darkness of dreams.
Sea stacks offshore, a reminder of home,
of the paintings lost, a multitude of King Lears
waiting in the wings at sunset,
the sky, a lid on the primordial soup
manifesting itself as rock.
Amphorae from another inland sea,
the cradle of civilization, overturned.
Gelatinous sea creatures thrown onto desert sands.
The earth is on fire, we cannot quench
the burning oil wells.

Maya, mayim, why are you sleeping?
She is a ghost. She is Ophelia.
Maya, teacher of the art of pillow talk.
Was it she, who, after a lover rejected her—
the mastectomy too graphic—
gave him an exquisite tea bowl
filled with the dry husks of bees?
Or some image I read from a novel?
She was the dancer who could no longer dance
because her bones melted. To survive during WWII,
she ate from Tokyo garbage cans. Rickets…
The soldier took her home to New York
where she was the actress typecast again
and again in Teahouse of the August Moon;
the mirror confirmed her roots.
It was then she began to paint her story.
Her ancestors were artists:
Grandfather Cezanne, Uncle Picasso—

Winter depressions came with the absence of light.
Searching for Hawaii—
the details of her death go unrecorded.
What genjii rise from these jars?
There is the equation of sunset to be considered:
the sun itself as if viewed through smoke.
We all live on fragile islands;
the sea stacks—old men
hunkering down to outwait the night.
Do those in power ever dream?
Or are we empty vessels waiting
to be filled with nightmare oil
purged from the sandy bowels of the earth?

There are more questions than answers.
I cannot say the same for basalt,
the earth's essence (and the moon's),
continually rising skyward.
I keep thinking of Ran,
Kurosawa's version of King Lear.
Intrigues of lust and power
felling the ruling families,
devastating the human potential.

Ethics. Our leaders are not Samurai. In Japan
even warrior thieves had a code of honor to uphold.
They say the plumes over Kuwait are visible from space.
The feathered serpent of the desert climbs
the holy ladder of smoke only to find darkness again.
They say in the desert, even the stones can speak.
What of the woman who is mute alabaster,
and the memory of water,
the mother ocean
who can no longer cradle her;
she is trapped within her cells.
The honor of the sky,
the veil over water,
Maya mayim.

Nothing but smoke and ash.
Asleep under the final Noh Mask.

Spring 1991 
DREAM VESSELS —from collages by Marsha Connell

NOTE the mastectomy too graphic—

gave him an exquisite tea bowl

filled with the dry husks of bees?  this was from a Bob Hass, a workshop in the Bahamas in 1981, it later turned up in a prose poem of his, "Human Wishes."

1993 Dream Vessels, Marsha Connell
1992 Another version of this poem appeared in  Sacred River
and Chaminade Literary Review 

missing p1

No comments: