Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson 1949-2017

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mark Doty & Remembering Maya Angelou ~



Principalities of June

Original light broke apart,
the Gnostics say,
when time began,

singular radiance
fractioned into form
an easy theory

to believe,
in early summer,
when that first performance

seems repeated daily.
Though wouldn’t it mean
each fracturing took us

that much further
from heaven?
Not in this town,

Not in June:  harbor
and cloudbank, white houses’
endlessly broken planes,

a long argument
of lilac shadows and whites
as blue as noon:

phrasebooks of day,
articulated most of all
in these roses,

which mount and swell
in dynasties of bloom,
their easy idiom

a soundless compaction
of lip on lip.  Their work,
these thick flowerheads?

Built to contain
sunlight, they interrupt
that movement just enough

to transfix in air, at eye level,
now:  held still, and shattering,
which is the way with light:

the more you break it
the nearer it comes to whole.


***


When Great Trees Fall
 
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.


When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.


When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.


Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.


And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.


Maya Angelou
(1928-2014)
 

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