“How Can I Begin?”: poems from Milk Stone by Pat Lowther

Burning the Iris_by GogitaFroggies1

“How Can I Begin?”: poems from Milk Stone by Pat Lowther

. . .
How Can I Begin
.
How can I begin?
So many skins
of silence upon me
Not that they blunt me,
but I have become
accustomed to
walking like a pregnant woman
carrying something
alive yet remote.
My thoughts,
though less articulate
than image,
still have in them
something like a skeleton,
a durable beginning
waiting for
unpredicted flesh
and deliverance.
I would ask
you: learn as I learn
patience with mine
and your own silence.

. . .

String-figure man outside the door
.
Didn’t I too catch the sun
in a cradle spun
of my own gut string?
If now outside my house some thing
makes a sound like dry skins scraping,
should my bones dissolve to jelly
in my narrowing flesh?
It is fitting to strangle me in the mesh
of my own making.
I who made the sun
come in my belly.
I shall open my door
and accept the evil as I did before
the shining One.

. . .

Stone Deaf
.
Imagine it
– tympanum, cochlea,
cunning little frogs-legs ossicles,
all that delicate absurd machinery
petrified, rattling stonily
in the skull’s cavity
like garnets in a hollow rock.
.
Or like a whale’s eardrum
I saw once preserved,
blank as a great flint chip
and lonely as one cymbal.
.
And the blood’s surf beating
then always like the sea
unheard on solitary stone.

. . .

Periodicity
.
Fragments of shell
shards of protein alphabet
.
my hands are blind
.
at my skin’s circumference
i fumble
seams openings
(is this an organ
for breaking shells?)
.
i smell snow on this beach
what colour
are my eyes?

. . .

Touch Home
.
My daughter, a statistic
in a population explosion
exploded
popped
out of my body like a cork.
.
The doctors called for oxygen,
the birth too sudden, violent,
the child seemed pale
.
But my daughter lay
in perfect tranquillity
touching the new air
with her
elegant hands.

. . .

The Last Room
.
I am waiting for you
in the lowest room beneath the building
.
I am smooth as a gourd
without resistance
my shape spreads
downward
seeking the lowest
centre of gravity
.
I spend hours memorizing
the labyrinth
beneath our skins
by which I came
.
waiting for your long shadow
in the passage
.
I am green as a gourd
but inside I am red
.
All through the folded hours
I am burning
quietly
.
I am becoming a red hollow
skin
a gourd for drinking
.
Only now do I recognize
shards patterning the dust
between my legs
.
they are my former skins
.
How many times
have I come here
.
How long have I been waiting

. . .

Wanting
.
Wanting
to be broken
utterly
split apart with a mighty tearing
like an apple broken
to unfold
the delicate open veined petal pattern
inside the fruit
.
I am arrogant
knowing
what I can do
for a man
.
I am arrogant
for fear
I may be broken
utterly open
and he not see
the flower shape of me

. . .

Demons
.
It’s a kind of justice
for our having left them
face down
while we grew branched
metaphysics
.
They held out
dumb paws for grace
We gave them ritual
.
Even the spare comfort
they negotiated
we fattened on,
driving them always
to the edges
.
It’s a kind of justice
that in certain seasons
they possess us
like planets,
like territories

. . .

For Selected Friends
.
Work one face of a stone
only
so I can always have you:
at times I am one-dimensional.
Love on paper.
.
It’s easier to photograph you
with my mind
arresting you at mid-point
in some brilliant exposition
before discovery moves you
off the surface.
.
Although I know you’re
a cave splendid with crystals
and white bats,
sometimes I am
afraid to go there.

. . .

Letter to the Majority
.
We are not what you think we are.
In another space
enclosing another space
we have grown
whole crops of quiet.
Even our laughter
laughing at ourselves
has been too soft for you to hear.
You have thought us a mirror
to your torments
and your homely pleasures.
You have been watching
motion on a screen only.
.
You send us casual
directives – Eat me, Drink me.
We brush your language
from the pages of books.
It is a momentary diversion.
The only way you can
speak to us
is by speaking to the whole world.

. . .

All poems © Pat Lowther Estate and Borealis Press, from Milk Stone (published 1974)

.     .     .

Toronto poet Sonia Di Placido is running a poetry workshop about Pat Lowther and her complete + unpublished poems every Saturday beginning September 13th through November 29th, 2014.  The workshop is part of Di Placido’s Poetry of the Canadian Moderns series.  Click the link for more details:

http://diplacido.wordpress.com/

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