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LEGEND for Wendell Wilson Sometimes the river leaves your name in logged tones, how it saw you managing the masts, stripping timbers, stem and keel, pinning black spruce rib to tamarack knee. Your Domain was the risk you would minister, how she took to her first dive like a waterborn, a trick of the marsh reeds blistering. The river says you grew that day and the fine shadows crept in behind from the sheetwork before the sun. The spirit compass hove free in its housing. You slipped from the cove and were gone.
Chapter Two RADICAL FIELD 1 We have tenuous edges. We have striated hides. Glandular black ribbons all inside us, pelagic and sweet. We have reservoirs you can't see. The caribou move through us beyond numerous. One of the cortical adumbrations, one of the ferns. Our heaviest metals accumulate. We wouldn't dream. 2 Visionary, the pink sea inches back where the essences in-fill. Hard to suffer distillates in the hinges. Imagine your own bone cells. Is it an ocean? Is it this only lonelier? The bore scrolls in and delivers its glycerins. 3 Plover sketches over wet sand ribs. What you call absolute groove in the surface, a trace-sacred. It's quite certain. The river's self-effacement in the sea. No more than this hopelessness skinned over. 4 Of the dry grasses. Of the denaturing blaze. The trans- to all my inactions or the trance of conflagration? One never knows which. The ventricles do open and shut with such vengeance. 5 What is out-folding here in the unpoliced recesses of the dunes? Excruciating rumor of a subject matter. Someone must know what is called for to be mortal, to go up close. The point of return is? The trend is toward branches. 6 Something in the colloquial won't welcome us wherein perform the tragical stars. Part giantess part rust scuttler in scrub rose bush. We don't even know in whose influence we have known it, the fabled moment the eye eats up the voice. 7 Each tern just missing its integer, each blunt wave verging on interstice. 8 How is the ground come up to? How can it shun? We knew we would not be glamorous but that was something. That was the old mosaic interface with somethingness. What we stood out against. 9 Is it indecent to be broken off from the birds? To be oblique and/or violently finished up? Is this our crime? To want abandonment in the upper mansions? Are you the beautiful? Are you the good news tumor just ripening? 10 The tough gulls go grim about it, the syndicate streams out-blossoming. How it all goes on ruining through winter. Ruining and singing. 11 You come upon it vestigial, onionous, the blued tissues exuding. So what can be spared of the nerves? The orchid thrives on its loveless foot. The inward earthworm unminds. Something in the chemicals remembering sunlight scumbled over water, those bloodroots of cloud. 12 We grow modern without being solved. Fogged in thinking we are really not this dead, are we? But gauded with the trick circuitries of the storm. We are not waiting? We are waiting? We are the red studio? We come just before the math? 13 All my material idea. What light is like this? What steppe this vertical?
Chapter Three WINTER JOURNAL The Sky Is the Lost Orpheum The shelter of it carved, caved Across the river, the park and the little Ferris wheel closed down The great oaks emptying, russet, gusseted the hovering slant light leaking from the outer edge of cloud bed leads and shawls pulled forth The synchrony of the lost elements recovered the shivering water surfaces, planar unmeldings, remeldings, riverine alchemies, unlocketed selves now the reemergence, the sun pouring global gold uptilted, gobleted, incanted Am I not as God made me but stranger? Made stranger still by what I have seen at this hour of earth untended, unministered- light caught up in the river's grooved tread That sun more like a mass grope out of emptiness and the black river weeds before it, torn and trained, rocketed and stark and stuck-to The tall shadow of the willow grows forth And the spare stems of the grasses and the rods of the mullein And these are the stations of this river The houses and the boats and the parked cars The growing wedge the ducks make moving forward, the shape of the element there among the weeds that jut forward, the mass of the willows growing deeper in green and sundering The backfall of sun going downward The surface of the river coming clear of its own admixture The ducks moving over like slow planes in formation, barely seen needles hauling white threads, secretly heeding The fish in my skin relinquishes Will I know then what I have become? The river darkens from its end of trees closing in There is the sun and this deep depression Exiting as viewed in this river Gray Shadings Barely discerned clouds Hard, hard to get here what worth, what worth River of steel. River of no one becoming you. Trees that are emptier today, more forced in their forms To focus on them is to be made glad of them in their strangeness The earth extrudes through them toward emptiness The few elms dismembering The willow's bloom above shore like a curtaining To focus on it is to be mostly taken into its tapes and its filters It is lost to the surface of this river The dull, impenetrable, intractable surface resisting, unetchable Now the faint rain. I don't know what to do with all this waiting things getting themselves readied toward emptiness The scratchy, shattering elm, its crimped skin, its exfoliating, its rivening its being disfigured by fortune and by wind A crone with old frills at her hair The grasp of her toward me Scratchings among the Burnings clouds in rafts above, upon one another, pushed up along the margin of sky dark underbellies Shirring of grasses and the nearly empty apple tree behind Where is this beginning from? The roll of clouds bolsters up close moves vaguely east Hear the interstate, its rush of backdrop constant Oh those deep colors are something sacred There are patches of olive green, chartreuse, umber, piled against each other, snapping and smoking almost and then the empty prongs and systems cross-hatchings against the grays, burnished and glowing The cloud roll has changed now, been buffeted slowly into bunches, disorganizing Oh, these torches before me that seem to burn brighter as the light fades This aching gradation, smear and gleam-forth and then the bare black hands up through splaying and forcing the crowns so slightly, just a tender worrying up from inside the swollen gloves, the spheres of them, the undoing the serial falling-off Furious brocade, yes, devastation That one oak in its torque and above, against the maddening subtle surface of the sky the barely defined roads upon it, the passages the growings-forth gobbed and wrought, rich impasto stubborn, unbecoming Now the grays, almost purple, seem to move forward branching up from out of the background darkening forth surge from within the mass organisms coming up against each other, bulging and turning off, roiling slow and mesmeric the contained motion of it rooted static movement, within stasis painstaking damage then recovery, damage then recovery A lighter band of sky now, stratum between dark cloud and complicated span of tree-frieze layering, up-changing free-needled, built-up duns and copperings score and rose-green gore, stitch and fret always upon the under-thing, the broad backing up over the one
Disseminate Birds over Water The reservoir churned and cloud-deformed The far line of hills, fused, bunched color bitter wind against this hunch my folded bones I can see the rust earth beneath trees, the rough mats gathering weight in semi-darkness, dim nesting bases of trees Graft of dark cloud upon lighter one behind, building up of something, a thickening, deposit of cold air, dark web of insistence, built up in me How long can it be here? A simmering of trees, a dark moiling a winter weight a mid-shimmering of heat-distorted things The positioning of bolts of deep orange, gold-green and amber molded, wicked in together Drops in pressure, now, a field of cold, a shift between rain and snow The movement into this remembering of separate things, train sounding its horn, removing itself from the scene Snow thickening the far bars of trees, graying them in Blotting, dulling, gauzing over this dream It is snowfalling, it is beauty-filling and cleansing this burn of words it is delivering something seeming to uplift and to begin pressing downward, this ink into frozen droplet this thing Snow plinking in the leaves, the left hands of trees the neat levers and pulls the odd weeds The rich fringe of emptying trees the shifted pins the breaks into dense pines into period reeds into gutterings What happens to the opposite shore is untenable is unmanageable to me That stratagem of damage, that unmattering Believe me it is some abomination of things being killed and that mattering to me That exquisite built thing that is obliterated its tiny white amplitude, its singing crushed into particles, its must on the undersides of leaves Now I am sure the world has not unfolded before me anymore but has closed into rows of its foldings Something in the collections of those trees bare branches upthrust, the brush of them bare branches up-brushed their lip along mesh of shore weeds, the flanged grasses the scrim of their midst I am in them again meddling in darks that are in them and the white gold that is their outermost screen that is their leafleting their grief that is in me thin dredge of pebbles and strange glandular patternings of trees against trees against cut-bank against breath The rubied lung of sumac tragedian (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Keep by EMILY WILSON Copyright © 2001 by Emily Wilson. Excerpted by permission.
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