The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Rainy Great Falls

A Text in Forgiveness
By Cleopatra Mathis

In the way of all his mornings, he sits there
smoking, having risen in the pre-dawn
shifting black. Awake to nothing but the over and over
of soap and running water, he has made his way
to the kitchen, the ritual of coffee. He sits,
watching the window glass give back his own reflection,
an older man waiting. Each hour
divides room shadow from outside shadow,
until the outer light is stronger than the inner,
and with the dimming vision of himself
he is taken into day. The cold light
rises to cream and violet; he watches
the minute variations take their toll.
And when finally his hand rises, it is hard to tell
if he wants to shatter something or to beckon
a greater presence, some other body of light
opposing whatever it is behind him.

For it has become a lifetime, this waiting—
this quitting the circumstance, the predicament.
Quitting the books, their plots and voices
that all add up to one: his life as a fiction
he has made, the craft of it
outside what he really wanted.
The scene he looks out on, trees and meadow
coming clear, is resonant, exposed;
so different from the dense magnolia in his childhood yard,
a vastness and height defined only
by the limitations of beauty. The showy leaves
snapped too easily, the blossoms stood up like wax.
Never understanding that delicacy, deliberate as a white lie,
forbidden to climb the available branches,
he crawled into the vast canopied underside.
In that leaf-dark world and its dim pattern of silt and bark,
the visible tree became no more than a shape,
pruned and determined, an artful cover
for the interior. That reverie now
is what he wants: his fingers playing the surface
until the end he reaches is prayer,
intermediary between the two worlds.

And if he has risen to quit the night,
to mark the confluence of word and step
with the deep close hours he entered as if they were velvet,
as if had buried his face in some ravishing solitude
with its reverberating no; then with enough
of these mornings he would forgive
the longing by which he lived.


I have not seen the sun in too many days -- ironically, since I was in Seattle, given that city's reputation as opposed to this one's -- and it is making me sluggish and cranky. We did get out some today, to Great Falls in the drizzle when the Maryland-Michigan game became even more depressing than the weather (let's just say the Terps did not score any points while the Wolverines did). We saw more vultures than I've ever seen in one place before, though we couldn't figure out what they were eating, and the river was higher than a couple of weeks ago, though not as high as we thought it might be in the rain. At least it wasn't muddy and there were no crowds!


And we are now caught up on television! To my surprise I really liked the Once Upon a Time season premiere -- oh, Hook and Snow are as annoying as ever, and the Knights of the Round Table made me recite Monty Python, but Nurse Ratched and the Indian made me howl, and there's that lovely Swan Queen moment when Emma gives Regina the blade. As for Masters of Sex, I don't feel sorry for him, everything Libby said about him is true, but Virginia must know she's settling -- she's not afraid of being left, she is the one who gets bored and cheats, she is not looking for a man to make her happy, she knows her ambition is what makes her happy! As for Doctor Who...why do I keep having deja vu?

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