17 March 2009

Diane Wakoski

[from Diane Wakoski's Discrepancies and Apparitions, Doubleday, 1966]

The Man Who Paints Mountains

You are cut off
like the Chinese hermit. You think of the snowy mountain,
look at your hand holding its cup of tea
and see the impossible comparison.
How can a word bring you close --
one brush stroke after another: the Tao does not give
everyman the same idea
of mountain.
Your brush stroke, with skill, glides into mountain
but will anyone ever know what you mean by it?

You are cut off
like the Chinese hermit. Each brush stroke gets smaller,
more precise:
but you have given up all hope of communication
and scarcely speak.
Mountain after mountain
fills your work. And they say, "Oh, yes,
he is the man who paints mountains."

[excerpt from "Discrepancies"]


And when I got too lonely,
after my hands were gone,
I would watch my empty shoes
standing on the floor.
They would walk places
at night.
Sometimes all my shoes would get together
and walk off double file --
the tallest heels
going first,
the lower heels following,
the sneakers would come next,
the sandals walking delicately last.
They would go solemnly on for miles
like the penguins
you told me about,
filing into Antarctica for miles
then turning around
at some arbitrary point
and following back.
Shoes, shoes,
you have led me through many
a sleepless night.
Thank you,

Discrepancies and Apparitions

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