Praise

by jdavidcharles

I’ve been trying to edit this poem for some time now, but I sort of just seem stuck with it–voids are left where I trim and parts become weighty and clunky when added to. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t quite feel done. Oh well.

Sometimes I think all poetry is commentary upon other poems–this one in particular is a commentary on Ben Johnson’s 4th lyric piece in his celebration of Charis set: “Have you seen but the bright lily grow,/ before rude hands have touched it?/ Have you marked but the fall of the snow,/ before the soil hath smutched it? […] O so white! O so soft! O so sweet is she!” And, more obviously, a meditation on one of Issa’s haiku which presents itself in the poem itself. Hopefully this poem(-as-commentary) fits between the other two well, a liminal poem so to speak, which is, perhaps, what all poems are anyways.

 

Praise

 

To say I thought of your body this morning,

smirch of overcast, the faint cloud-glow of

Californian rainclouds, low, and full to the

very edge of themselves, thought of the moon

sheen along your belly and breast which, at

the time, was your belly and breast, was its

whiteness, representing purity or openness

or some such significance as used and hollowed

and filled in its day by Johnson, Marvell, Donne;

to say I thought of this body in the midst of

our mutual grievances, and the way our insides

slowly crept out in insidious and hurtful ways,

the way we dressed in them, half the shaman half

butcher, and wept for each other but mostly

for ourselves and how we called it empathy,

a shared space of condolences, a time for loss;

to say I thought of your body then, thought

of my body beside and our warmth and hair,

clothing crumpled away like used up packaging,

something discarded, is a way of saying there

was an impression, a sunken space in my body,

a mold where whatever lay there, whatever

came so close as to touch, I tried to melt down,

to melt and press and stamp, but never could;

and when the mold finally shattered and I

touched and could be touched, was opened

slowly and from top to bottom, I couldn’t help

but think this morning of that line from Issa,

the one about the lark caught midflight singing,

something about her groundlessness, her pure

detachment from all other things and therefore

her openness to all other things, and what to do

but sing, and the word praise came to mind, a

certain fullness, suspension, and the word praise.

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