Thursday, March 10, 2005

"Socorro—For Jim Sagel

Socorro

for Jim (1948 – 4/6/98)

Death is a noun, the rain murmurs,
but to love is forever a verb.
~Jim Sagel


I envied you,
that sapling fence,
how you stripped
and heaved each young
green shoot of its
treasure of golden
telling tongues.
How you rerooted
the sturdy stakes, plunged
each bone leg (ivory
as your hands) into the good
rusting Española earth
you loved—and rerouted
a singular Colorado boyhood
on the wheated plain.

Yes,
there was the dusted
chafing of aging
sandstone, the watered down
mud of your self-made
house, the adobe walls
aged into rock. But it
wasn’t the sanctuary
of stone that you listened
to nightly that impressed
me, it was how you made
the displaced sheaves
of tree skin sing, how
you fingered the graphite
sticks between an outstretched
thumb and an index
and blackened in
the eyes and mouths
of a people. I loved
how the wind whistled
through the gaps
in the lines, how many
voices gathered there
in your tender gathering.
All the shunned leaves
whispering like the ghosts
of those gone, all
the passed on poets
who never wrote
a word: articulate
and present in a thirst-
struck land. At your hand—
the Seven Caves of Cíbola,
inconsequential as gold.

Now, the swords of yucca
are conquered with a fine white
dye, and the ancianos o piñones
of “St. Lawrence” are awe struck
and cold, and the bitter
herbs of Passover stun
the tongue with the taste
for sanctuary or socorro.
I look for you in all
the left behind aspens,
or in a slender collection
you signed one winter:
Amiga y compañera
en esta ‘movida’
de la vida. All the fine
limned pain belongs
to another, all the stories
you heard and plucked
and pressed into unfading color
among the pages. Only one poem
sings a song of yourself:
a poem for your father’s
"hands of so large and silent
a love . . . hands so scarred by
water and earth" and your "father’s
mother who lost all the songs
of her mother" and "now a hand
that has held nothing but pencil
. . . so smooth and unmarked a hand
that has never held love but as a book
at a readable
distance."

In the distance, a parched
wilderness for the lonely hunter
leaving behind him a memory
of the fallen families shivering
under coin and the golden blood
of dusk. Under the warming
sky, in the cruelest month,
a living sap still touches
the lips, and feels
an old surge through
the withering veins at the roots.
And the leaves of your books
are left here for the younger
saplings, those born or grafted
onto the largest family on the planet—
for poetry, like an aspen, is the hugest
being on earth. Even though you
left us, alone, with a note and a lack,
mouthing in the radioactive wind
of an untranslatable
word: Socorro.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Walton Horsfall said...

Not bad.

5/12/05 10:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lorna.
TAS

3/11/07 21:20  

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