From Wood End…

Today, I’m inaugurating a new experiment. I’m posting my first non-essay, a poem, From Wood End…

As I mentioned in the last post, while I am drawn to direct address, the essay form; I find creative writing, whether fiction or poetry, long or short, to carry meaning in a way that can be more powerful precisely for carrying that meaning more lightly, alluding and suggesting, rhyming and reflecting instead of explaining and declaiming.

This poem, From Wood End… is recent.  I wrote it “on-site” in Provincetown just a few days ago.  The theme has lived with me for a long time, the poem came to me word by word and required little editing after the fact.  I do find for me that poetry is this way, a dictation from somewhere inside that appears.

The physical proximity to where the Pilgrims first landed, and the proximity in season to that time of year when they came to this place provided the ground on which I built this work.

That’s as much as I want to say about it…

From Wood End…

From Wood End, or Herring Cove, looking west on a clear autumn day
the hills of Plymouth break the western horizon
like a high island, lifted by the loom
floating above a glittering shimmer
sky encroaching from its edges
underneath the land at each end.

From this sand spit after its first impression
from the east of a high bluff shore
that could have been Dover’s Cliffs, or Devon
or the last lingering view of Cornwall’s Lizard
until all its monumentality evaporated away
as proximity brought it into focus.

From this sand spit once explored
it didn’t take long to see that it was an ephemera
of sand and wind, a plaything of the sea
not a new land, a new continent.

From this sand spit first looking across at those hills
on a clear day in late November or early December
the harshness of the season closing in with the idea of a new land
the single touchstone behind the perilous journey
those hills floating above the sea
a smudge of dark more solid than the clouds
immovable against the send-of-sea as the light chop
crossed from southwest to northeast across the view.

From this sand spit those hills stood for a new land
The yearning that had been barely tripped-up
by this strip of sand
lodged on this promontory.

From this spit of sand here was the first
of the “Purple Mountains’ Majesty”
that would continue to beckon westward across this continent
new, or not new, to those who felt its tug.

From this sand spit today knowing what lies beyond
long enough for that yearning to have circled the globe entire
rubbing off every potential new promontory
any vestige of that naive
yet hopeful wish.

From this sand spit where now too many come to visit
or to stay
longing for the very qualities
that appeared to have no value to them then.

From this sand spit looking west
ticking off the meridians lost to date
the misty forests of the Lebanon, the glades and bowers of Crete
the green plains of Tripoli, Syracuse’s pines
Carthage and Nova Cartagena desert now
Lusitania, land of light
where the wide sea met deep forests along abundant shores.

California
the word has held all that remained of that hope for a paradise to the west
burning, consumed by billions of greedy eyes around the globe
as the last of its promise is lost in acrid orange flames
visible from space.

From this sand spit looking west
Is it too late to take a stand?
To say that here is where I am
that promise is not a place, that no idea should enslave
driving us to miss the point of what we have
and feed insatiable appetite
for its perfection in a place that does not exist
at least from this shore it cannot be seen.

From this sand spit looking west
the elemental is all we have
Air
Light
Water
Sand
Gulls that fly
transcending their gulled natures by that miraculous accomplishment
floating on air.

From this sand spit looking west
earth reduced to grains worn down from rock, laying at repose
where wind and water left them
anything upright is alive or human-made
the water lays over half the visible world from here
that already an understatement, more like seven-eighths, the truth.

From this sand spit looking west
the clarity of winter sun
low all day, has lost its pull
can we resist and not yearn to follow
it west and west and back again?

From this sand spit looking west…

Antonio Dias 10.30.09

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