Friday, May 28, 2010
Cup of Night
The Gulf. The states around the Gulf. Louisiana. Mississippi. Alabama. Florida. I've been sitting here at my desk, trying to write about oil (or write past my rage about oil), but sentences will not work the way I want them to. Better, I think, to post a poem from Danielle Sellers, whose Bone Key Elegies arrived in the mail a few days back. Danielle, whom Mark and I know from San Miguel de Allende, grew up in the Florida Keys, and I can think of no better song to the weird wonder of that dark island chain--"Cup of night," as Joy Williams calls it--than the series of poems that make up this book. To love a place like a person--not just its culture, but its plants, trees, leaves, birds, fish, skies, snakes, water--even if we couldn't live there, even if life said we had to let it go. Maybe that would change us?
December Evening, Key West
from Bone Key Elegies
Today I sat on the seawall behind the house
I've lived in twenty years, watching mullet
turn circles in the canal. Impossible
to count how many, it always looks like more
spiraling in from the unprotected bay.
They raise their silver bellies to the sun,
flashing like strobe-lights under the water.
Some thing unseen hunts them,
most likely barracuda. Occasionally one
or a few leap from the edge to the hub.
The ripple rings expand and disappear.
The school, a gilded body, plunges
three feet, its lights subdue, shapes
distort. On a whim one brave or stupid fish
pilots them back. They form a plane,
then vortex, octagon, what could be
a shield. We sold this place last week.
I thought of the mullet swimming the still canal,
and wondered how they never tired
of turning their bellies to the sun.
How close I came to jumping in.
Here are a few pictures from the What's Your Exit reading at NYU last night which turned out to be the sweetest event. Please click on to the icon on the right to find out more about the book, edited by the wonderful Joe Vallese and Alicia Beale, which includes essays, fiction, and poems from the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Pinsky, Gerald Stern, J. Robert Lennon, Denise Gess, and many others.
Photos courtesy of Sung Woo
Joe and Alicia
A nanosecond of excitedness.