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23 August 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt was to write about time. I had been thinking about time as a distance earlier this week when I drove by what I used to think was just a shallow, man-made retention pond nearby my home. Earlier this summer, a car slid into the pond and I was amazed when I heard on the news that the pond was 80 feet deep. I wish that I could look at this pond and only be joyful for the young boy who was rescued from the sinking car; but instead, knowing how deep it is, I shudder now at how what looks like such an innocous pond, its shoreline receded during times of drought, is treacherously deep.

80 FEET DEEP

The ducks paddle carelessly,
not knowing what stirs
beneath in algal water,
murky and still.
Innocent, pastoral, and calm,
until the SUV rolls back
across the parking lot,
clearing the low rail
like a lumbering elephant.
Unfathomable screams ripple across the surface
stealing air from a mother's lungs,
freezing her heart with dankness
as, across time in slo-mo,
all of his life falls out of the sky
towards the bottom.

No feet put on solid ground,
only wrinkles in glass;
air bubbles surfacing.
13 fathoms measured in seconds,
ticking off the lost years
of childhoods yet to be,
the comfort not to be had
if he reached for the far bottom too soon.
80 feet too close towards the future,
feet measured in seconds and breath,
until the earth stops spinning
and he stops falling, rising to the top,
with a splash kick of air and fire,
to see the light of day
in his mother's fearful smile.

Now as I travel nearby,
I wonder how many seconds separate us,
how many feet exceed our tiny grasp?
I am not a strong swimmer
and let murky time slip through
my chilled fingers like melting snowcaps.
How many times do we set out on
journeys with arcs unmeasurable:
the curve of the horizon
much farther than the blazed trail;
the valleys of the heart much deeper
than we can imagine?
How many times does the earth,
having swallowed a life whole,
spit it out to fall
into the bright blue sky?

8 comments:

Crafty Green Poet said...

Very thought provoking poem. I particularly like the last stanza.

twitches said...

"How many times does the earth,
having swallowed a life whole,
spit it out to fall
into the bright blue sky?"

I really like the conclusion; the whole idea is very interesting.

jim said...

How can I not like a poem this week that begins with ducks since mine ends with ducks!

I love the other-worldliness of this poem, the diving into this subaqueous environment. And yes, diving is all about time.

Cam said...

The idea about falling was actually inspired when a diver & a pilot told me that he thought diving was less risky because he'd never fallen out of water, but had come close to falling out of the sky when in an helicopter! I was wishing as I wrote this yesterday that I knew more about diving so that I could somehow work that idea of depth & time into the imagery.

I haven't checked out any Poetry Thursday posts yet today, but I will definitely check yours out. Thanks for your comments.

jzr said...

Very nice work ... the last stanza masterful!

teabird17 said...

I agree with the others - the conclusion is very, very strong - I like the whole poem.

BessieSnickers said...

I really like the juxtaposition of the lumbering elephant, the slowness, the sense of dinosaurs and tar pits and forever, set alongside our fleeting hummingbird lives, and the choices we make without knowing how long it may or may not take to reach our goals. Turns out there was quite a lot in that pool, huh?

Cam said...

Bessiesnickers, I'm so glad that you pointed out the dinosaur & tar pit sense. I hadn't thought of that, but it's exactly the right way to describe it. I was surprised at not only how deep the pond was, but also at how I didn't know that it was. I had thought for years that it was only a pond dug for rainwater runoff. There are numerous ones in my city, mandated by building codes to lessen strain on sewer systems, and one of the reasons for the overpopultion of canadian geese, an envasive species in my area, but that's another post. But, instead, it is probably glacial; there long before the nearby gravel pits were dug, which are most likely deeper, but one would expect that. I was amazed that while I knew the nearby hills are riparian bluffs (bluffs seemingly so odd in a relatively flat landscape), it didn't occur to me that this might be a kettle lake. That I could miss something that I knew, that it remained a secret to me, was partially what contributed to the writing of this poem. While not explicitly stated, it's there in the background, so I'm encouraged that you gathered that in your reading.