The photo of J.C. Todd is by Robin Hiteshew. All rights reserved.
"Remembering" first appeared in Nightshade which can be ordered from:
Spring Church Books
P.O. Box 127
Spring Church PA 15686
For a review by J.C. Todd in this issue.
J.C. Toddís work can be found online at:
"Why I Teach Poetry," an on-line supplement to the PBS special Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers, Fall, 1999 is located at www.pwnet.org
J.C. Todd is a Contributing Editor of The Drunken Boat
Email J.C. Todd
J. C. Todd
Journal Entry, Carolina Sea Isle
8888888 on reading Gerard Manley Hopkins
Where the Atlantic cuts the shoreline to ribbons
of islands, dolphins swim onto a spit of beach
chasing fish the full-moon tide pulls in,
then slide or flipper backward into sea.
Afterglow, dusk, ocean coming on, coming on
humped and gray as dolphins. Early stars
jittering on surf like glints of fish,
you, out of earshot, or are you?
Not even the pebble weave of the flyleaf
can restrain these words, yours,
set loose in my mind by the pouring down dark,
8888888 . . .chance left free to act
8888888 falls into an order.
Starry night. Swans in crosses, dippers
in bears, a wingtip of the great horse
flicking the lost horizon.
I take the flights to my room by foot--
the paradox of it!--go to bed
thinking, alone. Yet
in the last instant of light after the light
is out, I see the heft of your journal
indenting the extra pillow.
88888888888888 Iím drifting off,
edging over, closer
to where you molder and gleam.
High in the pines, yellow throat twitters,
confusing fall warbler, losing color flying south.
What hurries it--light shift? hunger?
some genetic ineffable?
Next week it will be gone, and next after
pelting Mexico, Belize with its bright note and skitter,
lifting the eyes of those whose autumn appears
not in the dense camoflauge of dying underfoot
but overhead in wings and the wheel of stars
that hauls Orion up from the dust of horizon.
The Pleiades glint steely. No frost
where this migrant winters, no sealing ice.
There the human, gathering evidence of cycle,
chills under the hunter, heartbeat slowed
by the song of a bird whose throat
yellows and pales like a leaf.
Remember, Mother, when you were so ill
it hurt to move, hurt to lie still? Or
perhaps you donít, having passed through flesh
into ether. I am the one who remembers,
remembers washing you and thinking,
Why donít I remember you washing me?
As though to clear the soapy film that clouds
the water of the bath, a hand appears,
supporting my shoulders, flimsy neck,
the back of my still-soft head. Your hand,
released from cells that have transferred you
when you washed me onto me when I washed
you, our hands one hand now as I sponge
blood from my daughterís skinned knuckles.