chasing shadows again

{May 24, 2007}   untitled ~a poem to say goodbye~

your cities are memories and ghosts to me
your mists carry with them the weight of the dead and of time
the whispers of footsteps up the stairs to greet an empty cage – the memory of feathers and flight
where are those feet – your feet – now
are the shores of heaven soft white sand so fine that wet or dry they suck in your feet as if to taste you
when you look back can you see me across the endless rolling sea that separates death and breath
or is this last distance the only one too far to divide us

even here where my feet touch a different ocean
I think of you as I walk through the market on Sundays
what would you have thought of the old bottles – the jewel-tone fruits – the crepes
in my kitchen at night when I walk
I sometimes wonder if my footsteps are the whispering ones
if I walk through memory and stand at the window that overlooks the mountain eyes wide and worshipful
if it is the clinging of the living who remain and not the dead
who haunt your kitchens and your rooftops
dreaming of your elevated dogs and cathedrals below the surface of the earth

you would have taught me when I married your blood to cook the soups that taste of the earth they came from
in place of my homeless dishes with traces of lands I have never touched or felt – only tasted
as you taught your daughter on whom I could smell your mountains no matter how long she had been away
in the handful of Spanish words I know lurks the word for mother
central to your world in ways I could not accept until I left it
you and I spoke without comprehension but with understanding
what stories you told me as you set out coffee and tea and bread I could not repeat or translate
pressed to answer I would say that you gave me the earth and the sky
taught me to listen to the blood that runs under the lines of fate written across my palm

I do not know how to say goodbye
most certainly not to a woman who regarded me with eyes that could see into hearts
not to a woman whose presence could define the word home
whose secrets I did not know but felt written in feather-soft brushes of truth and ink over my skin
in a language I could not read
for whom I picked out a Christmas card in which I recognised only Christmas and love
not knowing that those words would be the last I ever gave you
save for these
Te quiero. Sueño de los cielos del verano.


Molli says:

This is beautiful, fox. The writing has the feel of a Pablo Neruda poem – please take that as a compliment given that he’s one of my favourite poets. 🙂

fox says:

I’ll also take that as an invitation to pick up some of his poems. I must have read one or two, but I think he’s escaped being on any of my frantic poetic devouring binges.
Since we’re playing favorites (of which I can never actually pick just one) I reccomend checking out Nicole Blackman’s
Blood Sugar. Because I fell in love with that book, and when I grow up to write poems – I want them to come zooming out of abandoned thought tunnels with that kind of love and compassion and blood-drenched elegance.
I would address the poem more, I thank you much for your love of it, but I cannot…I never learned how to mourn for the dead, and speaking about them outside of poems is alien to me. At least coherrently.

Molli says:

You mean this one: Nicole Blackman?

She’s long been a favourite of mine, also. Actually, she’s the only poet, thus far to make me think poetry spoken aloud is a good thing! I raved about her to my ex-boyfriend and, shortly after I left New York, he met her at a party there! To say I was slightly miffed would be an understatement. He wouldn’t even have known who she was had I not told him!

Have you heard her on Alan Wilder’s “Recoil” (ex-Depeche Mode member)? She contributes to a couple of tracks there – um, Black Box, Breath Control and Chrome, if I remember correctly. In fact, I first heard of her on an alternative radio station which played Chrome. I was hooked there and then and found everything of her’s I possibly could. I had to order ‘Blood Sugar’ from America. Out side of the large cities, Australia is seriously culturally deprived when it comes to poetry.
Nicole also did all of the vocals and wrote all of the lyrics to the Golden Palominoes’ album “Dead Inside”. Um, let me think which poems from Blood Sugar are on it… Belfast, You Are Never Ready, The Ambitions Are, Ride and Victim… I think.

I have quite a few of her recordings and would be more than happy to email you copies if you’d like. I used to have pretty much all of them but they were on another computer that didn’t have a cd-rom drive (if you can believe it!). So, I had to start collecting all over again and never quite replaced all of the tracks.

You mentioned when we were speaking of Spoken Word Poetry a book you had read that warmed you to the idea. I thought of mentioning Nicole then because I’m pretty sure she featured heavily in ‘Verses That Hurt: Pleasure and Pain from the Poemfone Poets’ and I wondered if that was the book you were referring to?

fox says:

YES!!! That one. I saw the cover and was like…whoa. And promptly brought it home and devoured it.

She does feature in ‘Verses that Hurt’ which I adored, but that is not the book which introduced me to spoken word poetry. I’ll settle down with Google at some point and find it, because I must own it again.

And of course I would love to hear her. Love-love-love.

rax says:

this is beautiful! i especially loved these lines: “you would have taught me when I married your blood to cook the soups that taste of the earth they came from”

fox says:

Thank you, Rax!

When I visited her (my ex-fiancee’s grandmother) in Quito, every day we were there she would cook soup, often in the afternoon when we came home (because it was cold outside). She never went on our adventures with us in the city, but she made soup and set out breakfast and cooked us dinner.

It is worth noting two things about breakfast in her house. The first is that the woman could get me to eat breakfast (breakfast made of fresh bread and butter and cheese, even) and the second is that she paid attention. When I picked the same tea two days in a row, she had it waiting for me the third day, the hot water in a tea cup, the tea bag perched just so on the saucer. I’m certain she could have made my coffee exactly to taste. I lived with her about a week, and she taught me just how much speech is not really needed.

If I could get the strange textured perfect sponge cheese here, I would eat breakfast voluntarily with my coffee always. That is how amazing this cheese is! It has almost the texture of marshmallow. It’s like…perfect. I dunno. The fact that I can’t get it here (or the strawberry-cherry tea, or the strange bread horns that are like croissants but not) only reinforces the strange connection between Equador, home, and food that tastes like a place.

lissa says:

lovely poem, full of sincere emotions and love

Scott says:

i love everything you write.
so full of feeling..
and i just love the words you choose, superb as always young lady..

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