Solstice

Roo Borson

copyright ©2004 by Roo Borson

As for you, world –
you’ll have become small, and round, and lavender-coloured: ode
to the ewer, the comb, the water cooler.
And you? You lived in a place which was once a town,
you’ve seen it on maps before, others loaded ships
as in a dream: mood, appetite, memory, learning –
the demands seemed endless, all marsh-lights and loveliness,
the final estimates for the real world
or these propositions, for instance, which are sometimes true.
Indeed such unconscious concentration is possible,
in the neon light of early spring
and later, those evenings no longer fully spring
yet not quite summer either,
when the scent pulls back into the flower
and blackbirds bathe among violets,
half aspect, half unreal, in the slow rain of leaves.
Day after day, some days not returning,
and the boughs painted with light green lichen,
the detailed pink of the flowering apricot –
don’t go there unless to banish yourself,
because you are banished, beech,
oak, birch, and yew, among the hazel woods
of the elder world, where feathers flash
among the branches and hide in the darkening varnish
and history becomes the history of bad ideas,
a gloom of rotten nuts and nut-skins,
bitter paper. And tonight
the half-light in which paper glows –
walls, porticos, arches, places (who lived there?),
the print invisible, and the ocean sounding
all night long, clavicle to vena cava,
clavicle to vena cava,
it’s not a description.

Notes on the Poem

In "Solstice", Roo Borson swoops from the vast and worldwide to the small, personal and intimate. Is the effect dizzying, clarifying, or somewhere in between - and is that a satisfying and elucidating poetic experience? The collection from which this poem is taken, Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida, is described in the Griffin Poetry Prize judges' citation as "a poetic journal of mortality". Certainly, how much more intimately mortal can you get than a contemplation of the internal human anatomy - the vena cava (veins) and blood flow back and forth from the heart to the extremities? How much tinier can you get than the precious minutiae of nature's fine details, from seasons balanced delicately one against the other, to: "the boughs painted with light green lichen, the detailed pink of the flowering apricot" But greater forces are wiping towns off maps or shipping them elsewhere. "[H]istory becomes the history of bad ideas." Does it all make the reader feel small in the broad context of things, fragile and insignificant in the midst of oceanic and gargantuan forces, or somehow integral to a grand flow of things in nature and the universe that are echoed in one's own bloodstream?

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