by T. A. Fry
Where do I sail to find a peace lasting?
Before the sunrise, beneath rosy skies.
A calm to break my keen heart’s fasting.
An unexpected surprise, in your arms to lie.
Let’s leave these fierce seas for a safer bastion.
This bed our keep, your kiss a vise.
Enjoy this moment lest it be our last one,
Either awake or asleep, love has its price.
What be the truth with but faith to carry?
Don’t question why, hold fast to grace.
Unfold your heart be it ever so wary.
Our tenderness shy, only hope to embrace.
What good is logic when hearts yearn for glory?
I’ll dream these dreams, scheme my schemes.
Your hand on my face, the simplest of stories,
As your smile gleams, love’s brightest beams.
Lying side by side we could shelter forever,
A harbor, this union; two bodies entwined.
Let us pray even death is unable to sever
this communion of souls, together enshrined.
As my warmth enfolds you above the waves beating,
time inches forward, alone I awake.
Your memory sustains me. Our passion though fleeting,
turned sailor from coward, unmoored fear from its stake.
Serene, I lay silent, daydreaming your presence,
recalling past loving when we slipped our skin.
I ask of no one, to grant me my essence, or
becalm my peace roving, there you are, once again.
I wrote the first stanza of this poem, in my head, while out for a walk on a September day in 2014 before the sun had risen above the horizon along the Maumee River in downtown Toledo, Ohio. I was making my way down the river front and came across the abandoned coal-fired Edison Electric plant that is of some historical importance but not enough to save it from dereliction. A ground hog was having some breakfast in the grass and I stopped to keep him company. It made me look around and take stock of my surroundings. Near the relic is a beautiful life-like bronze statue of a woman, sitting atop a ships mooring. Slightly upstream from her, on that particular morning, was a dock at water level that was covered in sleeping sea gulls. The bronze statue of the naked young woman looked to me to be searching the horizon. Her hand to her face, her knee raised, she was looking out over the river, as a bather, a lover, or an adventurer, day-dreaming and my inspiration.
Either she or the ground hog was my muse that morning, at least for the first 4 lines. I wrote this poem before my obsession with sonnets had begun. It would be many weeks later until a workable draft of this poem would emerge and several months before the finished version would take hold.
I am always fascinated by how some poetry flows when read aloud and some, like much of John Berryman’s or Donald Hall’s is clunky or stilted, the words preferring the silence of an inner reading voice to match the dialogue of the poets mind as it was written. Peace Lasting is a poem that I recommend reading aloud. I took great care in word-smithing every line to insure it flowed, in meter, in word selection and in rhyme. The idea of word-smithing, like a blacksmith, is something I take very seriously as a writer. I wonder sometimes if readers understand this and see in poetry a glimpse of the writer, writing like they have a piece of red hot iron in tongs, too hot to touch directly with their hands, a writing instrument separating the words from their flesh, heating it, beating on it, re-heating, shaping, forming through fire, as if the words on the paper are being flattened on an anvil at the forge, until its finally ready to be quenched and solidified. Peace Lasting is about the quiet resonance of past and current relationships in our dream state of waking.
Time Does Not Bring Relief
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,–so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!
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