As if a dolphin
rolled beneath my crackling edge
breaking surface once
in a sparking spray,
so it is that you and sand
and the tidal rip
stir beneath my skin
and split me open again,
but only this last.
I will not permit
more than this, cannot permit
the stories of us
to reach the warm pools
and stretch in the sound and light
with the other clams.
May 9, 2014 3:27 PM
This poem was written in collaboration with Irene Toh. We traded poems back and forth in the spring of 2014. To see the poem Irene wrote go to her blog, Orange Is A Fruit
Process notes: while this poem is bound to Irene's seashore and salt air, it is also reflective of my reading Phyllis T. Smith's historical novel, I Am Livia.
Livia Drusilla was the wife of Caesar Augustus. I am at the point in the novel where it appears there will be a divorce between them due to his certainty that he must war with Marcus Antonius. She is just as certain there must no longer be any Roman civil war pretty much no matter what.
Prior to that war, not yet Augustus, Caesar Octavianus and Livia Drusilla, at least in this novel were married and loved each other deeply though she could not concieve a child with him. Since she had already borne children, the implication is that it was Caesar could not concieve.
It is a similar apparent divorce that I am writing of here. Caesar won this war with Antonius. At this point in my reading, very near the end of the novel, I am in suspense concerning Caesar and Livia. Any reconciliation is now totally in Caesar's hands.
There is a parallel to my own life. In 1969 as we returned from overseas, my step-father chose to divorce my mother after eighteen years of partnership. The children, neither of which were his had been raised. For whatever reason, though she had borne me, she always miscarried his children. There was little left between them from his perspective if not from hers, and he was desperate to have his own flesh and blood child.
My Dad's life was motivated by children. First he raised my mother's only child (me) and her sister's oldest girl child who came to us before her fourth grade (my sixth). My aunt died of a metastasized breast cancer, I believe.
My step-father resumed his bid for a PhD in Education at that point, moved to Arizona to do so, and in the process met a Southern Belle who was willing to give him a child. He finally had a late in life daughter and the privilege of watching her become a beautiful young woman before succumbing to bone cancer.
That was his third try for his PhD. He never got it. The woman he married had family money. He never needed to work for a living, though in the early years of their marriage he continued his career in School Administration.
I loved my step-father who also obviously loved me. He carried himself with an imperial mein. He chose my mother as his mate though she already had a child, and in so doing he turned from all chance to continue in a professional football career.
In those days the entry level pro football contracts were barely living wage contracts unless the player was a top star. My Dad was qualified but not a top star. In his marriage he no longer had the time or the freedom to continue. He was an offensive center and a defensive linebacker and he played one season with a San Francisco Forty Niner farm team before hanging up his cleats.
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.