Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Do Something Beautiful

This Sentence

(does not seem to contain a main clause)

As though it interrupted the rain, this arabesque
kick of silver. Spun sand-veil, in the storm.
Its broken bodies
Light. As though the small across the dimstopped
the road. Or as if shyness surrendered its torture, in order
to laugh. As though a war heard its name, and listened
to prayer. As
though last light would wait for my own entrance,
skirt hem dirty but so utterly available.

If light, used, as an old idea, fractured shard plunged in
as a murder undeserved and terrible. And told as often as
the death of Christ, this is how it is, this is how it was.

If light crashed and Iwalked in it, insistent,
if I entered and if it hurt.
And if the dark were no heroine with a tragic flaw,
not strange.
As though a simple stop. Mere veil, to save it. Light,
I mean, broken, as a spine. Light, at the borders of
our sentence, living on the train of the gown
as we do, available for lifting.
Here is what it has led to.

I don't know where I first stumbled upon a poem by Margo Berdeshevsky but once I did I was smitten. I googled her name and found no books but discovered she was a Chelsea award winner so I ordered that volume which featured 5 more of her poems. They were so stunning I located an email address and wrote to let her know what her poems had meant to me and to ask where I could find more. This was several years ago. We've been in touch ever since and I have eagerly awaited the arrival of her first book of poems "But a Passage in Wilderness" which finally came out from Sheep Meadow Press and arrived last week. The cover features one of her photo montages as she is not only a poet but a photographer (as well as an accomplished actress.)

Her broken sentences and syntax encase beauty, grief and rage at the spoiled world, the violence and brutality woven into lavish and wondrous creation. She bemoans our impotence, physically and spiritually, in thwarting the bewildering havoc and destruction imposed on innocents by man as well as nature. And yet in her furious complaint is a pleading, for light, hope, praise, reconciliation, love and the implication we can achieve such. From "Who Were Those Pretty:"

Five billion nights of fixing. The repaired sky hangs loose
as old men's flesh. How being a human invokes ritual, grief

for spiritual breakage, do I mean breakthrough? Nothing will help you
brace for the broken mind, the fall of the fair jester, the too sad man
in a Paris chair, wailing. Nothing will help you sew solace into the skin.

Our hope is torn from the scrape of God's womb.
Bless the broken, scars, all over this sky.

Berdeshevsky's frustration lies in the interstices between what is and what should be. Although the world simmers with beauty and offers solace, it whispers loudly of another world, a kinder rendition of the one we know. Reading these poems is like wading through the wreckage of a storm after its receded, seeing what you loved floating in ruin, each remnant a reminder of a of past love, a meal, a child, a face, a place, and as you fill your arms with as many salvaged pieces as you can carry away to start anew, you feel the sun's warmth on your face and look up, once again, into that now familiar and washed blue sky and in spite of yourself can't keep your heart handing over the keys.

Lastly, from one of my favorites:

But a Passage in Wilderness


But a woman prepares to cross the perfumed
river, little crying.

She has left candles placed like birds with folded wings.
When they are lit, she will watch their heartbeats burn.

night-sphinx of rivers, am I eye to eye with your light,
or closer to your claw, tell me this.

Sings the thousand prayers like ponies vying with winners, how
they know the course, but cannot stretch their white-downed spines
to gallop, can't span the fathoms with kicked light.

Broken-eyed roses, colts, don't fall!
Dark matter of the daily heart, do something beautiful. Do this.


Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

Ten thousand swan necks of praise, but she does know how to steal the keys: kicked light, folded wings, broken-eyed roses! It's a blessed gift. Thank you.

jenni said...

Beautiful. Thanks for introducing me to a "new" great poet.