Renunciation is realizing that nostalgia for life’s vicious cycle is full of shit:
the waving grass, intermingling with a rich profusion of wild flowers, the most beautiful sight I had ever gazed upon;
our own dark environment, where our only companion is the smell of our own sweat.
(One option beyond these two seems to be the attempt to organize and defend the new sphere of civil society not as mediation but as an end in itself.)
If it had ever become ‘necessary’
(I can find no other word)
to strengthen the central supporting column without too much enlarging it or adding to its weight,
no better formation than this spiral could be conceived,
and an almost exact parallel to it occurs
in the air-tubes or tracheae of insects
and the water-tubes of plants.
Although a prisoner’s internal experience
(the smell of his own sweat, her own dark environment)
may be close to
or identical with
that of another person suffering severe pain
or a stroke
or phantom limb,
it is, unlike this other person’s, simultaneously being externalized:
waving, intermingling, a rich profusion.
Ignorant what to do, he is stupefied;
he neither lets go the reins, nor is he able to retain them
(life’s vicious cycle: full of shit)
nor does he know the names of the horses.
She forgets that she is talking to listening children; she lives with the fairy folk,
or the kings
and beautiful ladies, whose adventures she narrates,
a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events
to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise,
Father Arnall’s low and gentle voice:
I wanted to amass information against the enemy we were capturing on the battlefield.
In the fire of the visiting sun their faces shone like the faces of children lit by a golden lamp,
The most beautiful sight I had ever gazed upon.
They began as useful and practical goddesses who cared for springs and wells and cured disease and foretold the future.
Archaeological excavations of sites thousands of years old have revealed bodies that show signs of medical attention:
broken limbs that have been set,
wounds treated successfully.
Relief is not complete cure, and may proceed from different causes:
a few preparatory experiments,
a panegyric upon modern chemistry
useful and practical goddesses.
produced when thin slices of material are placed between two polarizing plates,
have been used to investigate the structures of many natural objects
battlefields and wells.
Nature is abundant, but Grace is not abounding.
The book says so.
It is the best of those of your poems that you have let me read.
All that I could do was to wait until the tide was at the highest,
keeping the raft
with my oar
like an anchor
to hold the side of it
fast to the shore,
near a flat piece of ground,
which I expected the water would flow over;
and so it did.
Eviction can be contagious that way.
So I have to watch it–be its eyes.
A consistent, enduring effort
Is it about faith or is it about grief?
Well, you’re the detective, aren’t you?
[with gratitude to the original authors, from whom I beg indulgence for the theft and for the occasional tweak for scan and sense]
©Melinda Rooney, 2017