Seth Newmeyer: Two Poems
Gray with Height
The poem is the surface of the page whose words
are branded into it or pop out at blind fingertips
for a depth more soft and thought than felt.
The poem is its letters who are black
sheep that announce from the herds of silence
that they are there, bleating ink that runs
so much thicker than water, dries, then dyes.
The poem is those constellations and their myths
of its islands in the night—except, instead, black
on white—with invisible lines drawn
to connect some random dots to meaning.
The poem is the poet’s inky footprints trudging on, tracked
from above that flat oblivion of snow that piles up
with each turned and fallen leaf pressed over histories,
caught and ossified like bones, then fossilized and frozen
to stay one step ahead of us by us as birds fly, gray with height.
The poem is the shaman inside we consult, reading
meaning in the illegible gibberish we cannot see
in un-drunk dregs of tea leaves, and randomly cast-
off chicken bones, who says that the connection
we seek is in the Fall, and she will be our bridge
through windows to that other, under world, that idyll.
The poem is our lack of omniscience looking down
on a clockwork and self-contained universe we selected
or were left with and are now stuck with, realizing
the snowballing child on his slippery slope is God
of us who watch through the windows of his home,
preparing cocoa or punishments, or maybe the small-talk of an idol.
The poem is the child as a shepherd of snowmen, translating stories
shivered and breathy to them from the stars above that blind-gray
daylight, caught by our foggy cameras before the falling obscures
or the flash grabs or the wetness warps or the developed reaches
or the memory catches or the colors or meaning come to us trapped
who look out at what we remember in ourselves in rusty, dusted pasts
outside, inside, fading out, the young god powerless and light
but growing, oblivious, playing, pink in snow
We looked for it in piles of hidden pyramids in the valleys, dove
And somehow burrowed into deserts, which at night, in sleep,
Were mines: closed, diamonds almost twinkling above,
But not, and anyway out of reach. We looked too deep.
There are relics of ourselves washed up: I cradled my bones
For uncountable days; I found them by their whiteness, lines
Bright in the mines of night, and knew they were mine. I moaned.
They called to me, I culled them back, with those knights of mine, like signs.
What is there to do when time loops nauseatingly, but wait
With gritty teeth, and lucky relics, as our bodies converge
With their held? I can feel the echoing attraction that is weight
Grow as mines of sand, light and dark, time in time, lurch.
I’ll order my relics, my knights, to dig in sand, to mine in caves
For nothing but depth—for with depth, it changes: not found,
But surrounding; not treasure, but map. Rock is risen, saved
When turned to sand, then back; relics of clocks are wound.
Mountains ring us in the desert in the day. A valley was here
Before our search changed it, and it changed me and mine
To relics of ourselves, we found. Perhaps the mines are around, near,
Under, inside these peaks; we dig in, out, rhythmically with time.