Loss of …
By the time I remembered your name,
I had forgotten your face. Then I couldn’t
recall why I wanted to talk to you.
I trace dark landmarks on the back of scarred
hands: blood maps, unremembered encounters,
dust covered photographs, grey, grim, anonymous,
not belonging in any family album.
At night I cruise among islands, emerald green
against sapphire seas. Why didn’t I visit
some of these places? Golden sand trickles through
night’s fingers and time’s hour glass, as stars
sparkle and planets dance in Platonic skies.
My memory fails. I wake each morning
unaware of where I have been the night before.
I track the sails of drifting ships, white moths.
I think I have caught them in overnight traps,
but they fly each morning in dawn’s forgiving light.
I give chase with pen and paper, fine butterfly nets
seeking wild thoughts waiting to be caught, then tamed.
I grasp at something just beyond my fingertips,
but I can’t quite remember what it is.
Comment: I first published this poem on July 31, 2018 (click here for the original post). Here it is now, in revised form. I find the revision process to be totally fascinating: the polishing of old ideas, the arrival of new ones, a different structure, a reshaping of the poem’s internal logic. So much happens in the revision process. Many great poets wrote and rewrote their poems, again and again. I consider Francisco de Quevedo and Juan Ramón Jiménez to be poets who continually revised. A perusal of the variants to their poems (28 versions in the case of some of Quevedo’s poems) gives the reader an understanding of how the great poets think, of how they purge, intensify, sometimes simplify, usually improve their initial instincts. We lesser poets can learn so much from the greats. Above all, we can understand that poetry is a life-long practice, that it is a love of words and emotions, that it is a desire to catch and preserve the uncatchable that can never be completely caught. The critics say that the reader can never know the writer’s intentions. I agree with that, to a certain extent, as I never know why I am writing what I put down on the page. I guess I often have no intent. More important, my original intention can change as I write, and what I write is by no means what you understand I wrote when you read, for each of us processes the imagery, especially metaphors, in a different, and very personal, fashion. That said, when I rewrite a thought pattern emerges and my intentions become that much clearer, not from the words on the page, but from the footpath that led me in different directions until the final version emerged on the page.