Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Pantoum for the Un-Poet

So maybe this should be a week for the un-poet in me. The person who sits staring at the computer screen waiting for the words to be released, for the sounds to slink, and the meanings to follow. When I was in high school, I put the pen to paper because the world was poetry to me, was rhythm and consonant and form. The world was the Pablo Neruda poem, "Poet's Obligation," as he writes, "So, through me, freedom and the sea will make their answer to the shuttered heart." 

Is it my own heart that's shuttered? Against the changes surely knocking at my door? Against growing up, and apart? In high school I dreamed that through me, freedom and the sea would make their answer to the shuttered heart of the world. And now, do I dare to dream that wide? Do I imagine that through me, these humble words and ideas and meanings, these questions I ask and answer, freedom and the sea might make their way to you? Do I imagine that the act of writing, however difficult and however unwilling and unpoetic I feel, might unshutter my own heart? Sometimes writing is the only way I can listen closer to the world. 

Assignment: Write a poem. Write a pantoum, this time, a different rhyme and rhythm scheme: each stanza is 4 lines. The second and fourth lines of the preceding stanza become the first and third lines of the next, and so on. The last stanza ends with lines from the first stanza.

Okay. Deep breath. Here we go!

Rouen Cathedral (The Monet Series)

I never notice anything but light:
you brushed this canvas full of sun
and colors bleed their darks to white,
Did you paint to pray, your heart undone?

You brushed this canvas full of sun
shadows arch their backs towards the night.
Did you paint or pray, your heart undone
by time's untimely march, the painter's plight?

Shadows arch their backs towards the night:
your whispered windows, doors, melt to one
in time's untimely march, but not your plight,
each canvas holds a moment just begun.

You whispered, "Windows! Doors!" They became one.
Evening shafts of sunset climb the heights,
each canvas holds the moment now begun:
The harmonies of wind and stone take flight.

Evening shafts of sunset climb the height
your hands prepare; your patience won
by harmonies of wind and stone in flight
you touch the brush, your blindness all but gone.

Your hands prepare the place, your patience won.
The West Façade dissolves. The world breathes bright.
You touch the brush, your blindness finished, gone -
A purple streak drips through our shallow sight.

The West Façade dissolves: the world breathes bright.
I close my eyes, and pray, may I become -
a purple streak drips through my shallow sight -
someone with eyes and heart whose song welcomes?

I close my eyes, pray, please, become
the colors bleeding darks towards white -
become the song - eyes - heart - welcome.
I cannot treasure anything but light.

© Hilary Sherratt.

May poetry sing in your heart today, and may Monet's Rouen Cathedral series whisper about the beauty of this world.


1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful poem, Hilary. Such beautiful imagery in your words. Thank you for this lovely morsel this morning. Blessings to you. ;)


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