How did a great Red-tailed Hawk
come to lie — stiff and dry —
on the shoulder of
Her wings for dance fans
from “The Dead By the Side of the Road,” by Gary Snyder
I saw the doe
placed so carefully, fanned out,
the embankment scrolling upwards,
in a pose she could not have assumed that way.
Silk-scarf ivory, sere limned against winter grass,
eyes still glossy as polished jasper, her delicate hoof extended like
a lady’s ungloved hand, she must have danced
across Jolly Road, and some driver-poet,
like Bill Stafford, got out
and puzzled about her fate/ Isadora
Duncan, leaping in the
with her Grecian chorus of young
boys, sandaled Aphrodite of Kopanos Hill —
she might have been there, watching in a toga-d pose,
but I, wearing dark glasses and passing by
the next day, was presented only
with a dead deer, not the dancer she
might have been.
What gloves do we wear when removing a
fallen deer to the verge
of the road? Ivory, sere,
silk or suede?
Could it be
that they are the gloves of invisibility that wrap
our dancing feet,
our hooves splayed out
as if they were Isadora never-caught in the scarf
of her longing, only leaping?
Isadora Duncan captured 20th century imagination with her innovative dancing that featured a return to Classical Greek forms. She helped set a healthy fashion for artists to go “natural,” wearing sandals as part of that gesture, and of course she died famously, riding in an open car, her long scarf trailing in the wind, only to get caught in the wheels of the auto to strangle her.
“Bill Stafford”: See William Stafford’s poem, “Travelling Through The Dark.”
Diane Wakoski’s latest book, The Diamond Dog, is now available from Anhinga Press (see the review in the Christian Science Monitor). She is the author of more than twenty collections of poems and continues to teach at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Professor.
For instance — the morning after snowfall, when
everything has the centered hack
of obsidian and white, clouds still covering the sky, without shadow.
Then, absence of color intimates
If that morning, still puffed with the snow
draped on branches, were
shone upon, sky’s delphinium globe
swimming out of cloud-cover,
the little branches now dipped in
it would lose immensity
under my lids.
gold and green and orange snow blowers and shovels
would come out, a reminder of
worldly destruction; the kids in red gloves would
dirty the world with snowballs, the car mufflers
would blow out a column of assertive, lively particles,
some perhaps staining the snow blue. Even the light itself would be
cheerful and lose its sonority.
Edward Weston’s peppers — wouldn’t you shudder
if they were green? Would you ever want to see a Greta Garbo
film in color?
Some beauty is created out of dimness,
and this I must remember in future times, when my hospital bed
will throb with the white of a morning after snowfall, the white
still almost dark because the clouds remain to cover
the sky. Let me celebrate an inevitable approach
of dimness, which I now am able to recognize
as final beauty. Let my seemingly ringless hand,
lying on the pristine sheet, reveal
the invisible philosopher’s stone I’ve always
worn on my marriage finger.
Let me remember light is only
indicated by lack of light and my closed eyes
the alchemical chisel of black and white.
Diane Wakoski’s new book, The Diamond Dog, will be published by Anhinga Press this spring, 2010. She is the author of more than twenty collections of poems and continues to teach at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Professor.