Could I give you an anchor, I would. Weight,
something to hold you in a place that digs
to bottom of past, floor of memory,
but all is sinking, as I grasp for the
ring, stock, shank of your life—something to slip
a knot through, to tie you to ancestors.
For in this place that is neither here nor
there, you are forsaken by days, days that
were your own, and years honored in pictures
and emblems of love are wind passing through
an old woman’s thin grey hair ‘til all is
life we cannot hold from time, undertow.
Still, love is not estrangement, and I will
seek you, seek you there in the eye of it,
the face of earth, stars, for one moment more.
SILHOUETTES OF SAILS
Say: it is like this when the beloved
..........arrives with gifts and tender
songs saying, I will abide through winds of change
..........through summer heat,
I will stay near
like shade of Cyprus, or illumined stars.
..........And say: with my beloved, it
is like this:
high ceilings, simple columns—an inner
..........courtyard with graceful arches,
brush sweetly over evening leaves—Or say
..........like silhouettes of schooners
on the coast,
like shifting winds with vessels plying across
..........oceans bound for ports east and
rigs needing only ocean, wind, and sail
..........sails, pointing high, higher
in changing winds.
And along the coast—this: bright schooners carrying
..........every thing where nothing
is lost, "lost without trace"
..........or “abandoned at sea.”
Say: golden age, vessels, precious cargo, one
only us as crew. Or say
with my beloved, it is like this:
..........as nightingales to roses, caroling
round trees, filling shrubs, filling all flowering
things with song till all that’s left, all we hear
..........is gardens’ delight—one
beating in Love’s city which never falls,
..........for worlds, all light with the
are seas, seas softly meeting
..........or ships on one boundless deep
bearing coral, pearls to the house of love.
oil on canvas, 62x83 inches, 1992
NOT SUMMONS NOR RECKONING
He did not recover from one wound before
another report followed hard, fast,
came to him as words rushing in a whirlwind
of trouble, whirlpool of grief. Stunned and dazed
he fell to his knees, he fell to his knees
wanting praying awaiting reply.
He would have even preferred being
summoned, summoned to a reckoning
for misery with motive would not sadden,
or bring him such remorse. And so it was
or came to be that what he wanted most,
in answer to his own was Voice, heard above
winds, above clouds of mystery from those
whose words bore storms to his heart, floods
in a heart uttering words like dust. Yes,
Job wanted something, not visible company,
but something to reach, reach to and be heard
or held. So say: we are broken, broken like
Job, wanting a flood of grace filling the
Palm of hand, cup, or gallon-measure, filling
water, clay, desire and every thing
from dust created: East Bank, West Bank
Israel .......Jerusalem .......Palestine
Baghdad falling .......snipers .......spies
Act, Haiti rebel cause Haiti—presence,
visitation, to seize revolutions,
destiny’s wheel and spheres of life caught
in the whirlpool—whether spent force or complete
cohesion— like passions contending.
Oh to be heard, held by mercy, held from
forces bent on reducing it—us—to
utter impotence, heart-fire, and this:
a world worn by gathering storms. So Job
wanted something, the Mighty Arm, its work,
works from Job to his cradle: rumblings, light’s
splendors, unfailing blessing and every
thing from worlds of dust proclaiming Presence.
The majesty, simplicity of it
cracks the heart, it cracks the heart open.
In the seed a universe is with us,
whole, where watchers find the tree, blossom, leaf.
seed—sun, soil, dew—divinity
of hyacinth or rose, remembrance complete.
And we shall be as leaves upon the tree
whose roots are to earth deeply married, whose
in all kinds of weather,
free-reach toward sky,
and when the falling time comes,
we shall not weep for things unbound;
than breezes of love’s boasting
have freed us. Mastered by Love, we
become another season’s flaming color,
toward long-lasting fields
covered in myrtle and favored by the gods.
Donna Denizé is the author of
the poetry chapbook, The Lover's Voice (1997) and a full-length
book of poems, Broken Like Job (2005). Her poems have
appeared in anthologies such as Full Moon on K Street, Hungry
As We Are, WPFW Poetry Anthology, and Weavings 2000.
She holds degrees from Stonehill College and Howard University, where
she was a student of poet Robert Hayden, while he served as Consultant
to the Library of Congress. She served two years on The Folger Poetry
Board, and has also contributed to scholarly books and journals, including
Shakespeare Set Free, published by the Folger Shakespeare Library,
English Journal, and Teacher’s Digest, an educational
magazine from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2003, she
was awarded by Williams College the George Olmsted Jr., Prize for excellence
in secondary teaching, and in 2004, she was appointed to the board of
trustees of The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) in Staunton, VA. She
is Chairman of the English Department at St. Albans School for Boys,
where she teaches Shakespeare, American literature, and freshman English.
During the summer, she teaches in “The Cathedral Scholars Program,”
an academic enrichment program which serves students from 15 different
DC public schools.
in Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2011.