Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Independence Day

The end of summer is contained in this, its hottest day.
Cupping a hot-feathered crow in both hands you lift it to the sun,
and the shadow that falls is the shadow of winter,
the touch of its slender black fingers on yours
is December's touch, the rise of darkness, the wind lifting,
the pepper-blinding sleet.

The torn flags struggling from their poles
tell a different story: freedom would be destruction,
one free breath and we would fall, to be next year's
rotting cloth snagged on the blackberries –
a cotton spiderweb on the thorns –
grayed with dust and wet with tire-splash;
an immobility compared with which this struggle seems
at least a ghost of liberty.

I have come all this way to tell you: we held the pass
till the Persian satraps fell out with each other:
your homes are safe, and the winter flows from
the summer from the winter, still, and you are safe;
but no one else is coming home. We are the winter
in your heart of summer: we are the flag that struggled free.


Zhoen said...

I would have it no other way, I accept.

am said...

Independence fraught with shadows and illuminated by images in the sunlight. It's an ancient story. Quite moving to hear this version in your distinctive poetic voice and to see that the last word is free.

I've been reading a book called The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde. It was first published in 1983, long before what I see as the "gift culture" of art and poetry blogs existed. Its original title was The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property.

Creative blog posts are gifts, freely given. The book is a long meditation on the idea that gifts move through a community of kinship and kindred spirits in a way that commodities do not. He writes at length about gift culture and commodity culture. I haven't finished reading it but keep finding evidence everywhere that the book is as relevant today as it was in 1982. Like your poem, it is a complex meditation.

Thank you, Dale.

Dale said...

thank you so much! xoxo

Beth said...

Deeply affecting, Dale. I got chills. So real. So beautiful. So terrifying.

Dale said...

Oh, thank you, Beth!