11 August 2012

Noelle Kocot

[from Noelle Kocot's Sunny Wednesday, Wave, 2009] The Poem of Force after Simone Weil's Essay on The Iliad

How often have I lain beneath a roof of trees and sestinas,
Sestinas and trees, the chasmus of my timid hopes decked
Out in the styles of the day,
Losing myself in novels of corporeal sunshine and a home
Where a samovar is always gurgling on the stove, and men of frivolous
      or serious wives
Tie self-strung misery around their necks. And knowledge

Is a shining lamp that lights the hieroglyphs of love and suffering, and
      no knowledge
Is enough to put it out. I used to dream of a sestina
Whose very presence would ignite the longing of an ancient wife
Who'd swim the matrices of grace into the waves that swept the deck
Of a ship leaving its home
Of drowsy cows and frogs waiting by the river as the day

Blinked over never-ending fields. But today
I feel in almost perfect balance with the world, and any knowledge
That I had or have is but a lying down in the glass casket of my
      thoughts, the long small home
I can barely even find were it not for this sestina
Crashing like painted rain against my eyes decked
With brazen orchid light. And were I not a wife

 And mother to these thoughts, I'd take my wifely
Ringless hand and draw the curtains on the days
Of an atavistic reaching out and clear the deck
For something more untoward than the acknowledgment
That we are riveted between laughter and the abyss, like characters
      in a sestina
With all the lines crossed out. I find my home

When I travel the near and distant byways, I find my home
With the wives
Of absent heroes put to sleep in the sleep of bronze, and in sestinas
That haven't borne witness to a single day
Of war, arrows flying on both sides but none to pierce the knowledge
That we ourselves are a deck

 Of marked cards that decorate
The history of our homeless
Tribe. To know
This is to understand Hector's grief for the long-robed wives
As he stood outside Troy's walls in the rising of the day
Waiting for his death, and trembling, his soul mourning its fate of
      being trapped inside a thing — to understand this is to return to an
      age of epics, not sestinas.

For now I have only the bare knowledge of all wives
Who've ever decked their homes
With the talismans of the day, and my talismans are sestinas.

Noelle Kocot

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