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poetry by Joan Ruvinsky
The following poems appear in a collection entitled This Wind, The Muses’ Company, 1996.
For the record
It is this constant flux, breathing in, breathing out. Sometimes there is no one there at all. In town, everyone smiles at no one, and no one smiles back and no one knows no one isn't there. Sometimes, at home, no one goes to the wood shed and comes back with an armful of logs, different shapes, different sizes, so no one gets cold where no one is living. No one calls, so the telephone doesn't ring, but it doesn't matter because no one is there to answer it anyway. One day, not long ago, no one went to the woods so there weren't any tracks to follow in case of a suspected disappearance. No one would think to look anyway because no one even lives near there anymore. It was no surprise when no one came back unbenounced since no one knew anyone had left in the first place. No special occasion. Just breathing out and breathing in. Nothing notable. Sometimes no one goes to the grocery store for provisions, mostly when there is nothing left to eat. It is a six-mile trip. It takes no time at all. The store is never crowded when no one is there. Off hours. No one cooks much anymore so shopping is simple. Some nights before bed, no one sets the alarm because it isn't necessary to wake up at any particular time. No one is there to wake up. So waking up is no problem as it happens by itself. Nothing alarming. Just breathing in and breathing out. When no one is laughing, nothing much happens. When no one isn't laughing, it is the same. Only variations in the passing air. No one is particularly puzzled by this. It seems so natural. Nothing noteworthy. No one wonders if it has always been this way. No one can't remember. It is a gift everyone has. Memory. No one remembers this. It is as natural as breathing out and breathing in. No one comes and goes but no one is there to notice, so no one takes note of it here so nothing will be missed. This is just for the record.
with black wingtips
soaring in wedges,
wheeling on a sullen sky –
Imagine these snow geese
in late November
scouting out a plausible lake
just before freeze-up –
Imagine we, too,
are that beautiful,
aloft and countless,
It would have made northern lights
look like the last feeble flicker of a firefly
on its way to inevitable autumn.
And if we always knew, we'd momentarily forgot
that unmistakable iridescence,
the glow of things,
world incandescent on a winter's night.
Effortless, dimensionless, folds
of fathomless enclose one
upon another, tucking eternity into the earth
and stillness nestles among the land.
It would have made alone shatter
to tiniest crystals, remembering then, we are
adrift on a wisp of breath
rising slow and circling some ancestral flow,
rise up and follow in soft ascending spirals
this ageless undertow.
In waves over snow fields
it comes to me in waves this wind
entering me now, shearing my vows
and swirling me
scorching irreverence to radiance
In reckless whirling I am taken,
blown through, irradiated,
bones to flare, a silent signal to the sky
that I am nothing
save the churning, the insatiable wind
hollowing me to a whistling cavern,
searing the corridors
I had saved up,
blasting unsheltered conviction
into speechless transparence,
in what we share of air,
breathless, seething, unfurling.
In snow fields now I lie.
In snow fields I am consumed.
So many times have I sinned
since I saw it,
sins of scepsis of sentience
of slumber of sepsis,
contamination from a thick damp world.
So many times have I sinned
and said this is not so,
stretched forth my hand to show how solid -
this wind annuls my promise,
sweeps me out again to snow fields,
bedazzled and trembling in the glare
and I am emptied and surrender
into raptured, sparkling air.
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