Wednesday, April 16, 2003


SMALL VIEW, iii                                                                        
         —after Wislawa Szymborska                                            

1. Not content with things themselves,
we named small desires, translated them into stone.
The smithy’s forge transformed nameless dirt into iron,
stayed countless armies of sand into glass palaces.

At Zaandfort, we admired the slow hunger of glaciers
and the ceaseless appetite of the Rhine, carrying a payload
of what once was the secret heart of mountains.        

Midsummer: we stood on a dune above the North Sea,
talking of Caesar and philosophy, naming the intangible
sandwiched between schools of thought. Cogito ergo sum.

Things cannot stand for what they are,
without moniker or name as if we brought them into being
with our mad desire for definition. To think is to name.
At Descartes' huis we measured the ratio of shadow
to light and found it wanting within our own darkness.
Throwing stones at the shattered ego, an afterthought.

2. As Blake would say: to seek eternity in a grain of sand.
But then, he saw God in an apple tree when he was four
   and newly come to the naming of things.
How did he know God if there was not yet a name for it?
Was it verb or noun?

                           This naming: And God said...
sheds no more light than the man in the moon.
Yet we persist, we insist on this naming,
yet overlook the way warbled glass in the old house
imperfectly admits sunlight into a room.

Should we turn the windows upside down every 50 years?
Stand the rubric of time on its ear in order to see clearly?

3. We could name an aspect of time, call it slumped glass,
explain it with the poetics of physics: slow fluid
seeking gravity’s lips, admire rippled light cast onto skin,
a genesis of follicles and dappled shadows on the floorboards,
or imagine an ancestral memory of sea and sand and wind.

Appellation, cognomen, epithet.
We hammer and tong Latinate structure
into verb or into noun as it suits:
we designate it nom de guerre, nom de plume,
we call it pseudonym, or maybe nothing at all.

4/03; rev. 9/03 for Zimmerzine

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