Far back it is, the beginning
in its ruined stillness.
I cannot say, with words, the line
around the calm of it, the invented calm.
The children came later, eyed and curving faces.
They want a story: a cycle and a resolution.
What they want is a game, a token,
an hour with winning, rules and spaces.
But my story is a bag that sags and pulls
through the light the lost and worst.
The walls that opened, the fires that fell
and made the shape of flowers.
Words in a dusk that floated without meaning,
shapeless. We were pale, out among the small.
The little black nocturnal things who fear,
who tear the dark with running and burrowing.
My lost and tilt-eye house is filled
with the fire’s jumping noise and color.
The raven flies off with its sounds altered by
its bird voice, the different size of its understanding.
The black wings of the bombs took less
than the love of breakage, knowing and abstract.
Eyes with joy in the burning, or turned away.
In the following calm, the wilderness of calm,
And the new light of forgiveness,
a hill of light, a tide.
The light is the bear that chases you.
It determines where you run.
I tell my children something old: Rome full of farlight,
gone so something better could come. I lie.
Or how the universe came in a Big Bang,
making a sky of magical waves
that released like rain the blackness,
the heavy weight of being nothing.
I lie again.
I show them my hand that is heavy with Now
and not the remembering.
My hand full of Here, in its weighted cloud.
The calm of it: the palpable, imagined calm.
Around my exile is a line of green.
I had not quite reached it when the cold
came, the white sun dropping,
low and lower, its arctic stone.
I walked the space of banishment.
There was falling and shouting, then belief.
Silence that repeats and hardens
the leaf and the lost green sound.
In memory how they ache,
the old and vanished scents opening
my hands that were deft in their heat,
holding the long beans, the easy, ordinary loves.
Patricia Nelson works with the “Activist” poets in Northern California. Her most recent book, Out of the Underworld, is due out this year from Poetic Matrix Press.