St. David’s

Today is the feast day of the native Welsh saint once called ‘the Waterman.’ Supposedly, that was because David–properly Dewi–abstained from alcohol. Odd, that–I live on a tidal river with many mariners for neighbors, and as far as I know, a ‘waterman’ is someone who does his work out on the water. But what saint would recognize their own story in the one that gets retold?

The anti-suicide mission seems to be continuing. I’ve been rearranging things at home, and in the course of sorting, I found a flyer that was posted around town a couple of years ago when a young woman who lived here disappeared. Her clothes and phone were found neatly piled beside the river where she was last seen. I didn’t know her, but friends did, and talked about her for a while after that. It got inside my work, and several pieces followed the sad news.

The magic loops around and around, but the loops are getting tighter. There were already crossing-over songs for a young woman I saw in a vision, who had drowned by accident but whose family feared suicide. And there is a recurring story in visions and dreams about a selkie, a magical seal/human creature. I may have known one in real life, a man. Once I dreamed that I was fishing off a pier. I cast my line out far and hooked a great seal from very deep water. It came to the dock as I reeled it in, only to look directly at me, sadly. I felt ashamed for catching it with a hook when it probably would have come to me willingly if I had asked properly. I removed the hook and it returned to its disturbed abode.

Poems come willingly, at any rate. This one did:

1 March 2021


The Stillness of Change

It’s not the same ice love it changes each winter

when it’s all over its form flies away

keeps itself safe in the heaven that sent it

till deep in the fall the pure time shall we pray

If the water’s the same the ice crystals are never

even a cupped hand of snow will refreeze

in an altared mysterious manner one better

for having remembered it once fell on trees

Very late in the springtime a snowstorm came over

our valley and that’s why there’s fruit there no more

the petals were everywhere running with water

till growing so cold they all stared at the door

That remained as their six-sided forms all collapsed

and then increased solidity gravity came

again with a strength their own weight had enhanced

till they lay in a mass made as one secret shame

Came over them out of the heavens no longer

their safe hiding-place they were here to remain

once when you gathered up snow for your altar

the melt-water ruined the page made of rain

Leaving nothing behind but a small subtle warning

that this could occur even now and to you

ask the wide door where the rain that keeps pouring

on sinner and saint if your prayers will come true

And this lyric will end in an avalanche snowfall

created by singing too loudly brought down.

to the place by the fire where a face lately showed us

her secret intentions and where she would drown

After leaving the Moon in the sky she grew weary

she paced round the forest the trees thick with bloom

the snow of them softly reminded her tearful

and sad cast of mind if you leave this cold room

Will the spirits so kind to you now be as willing

to offer you comfort and solace as snow

it’s no longer ice but it will be the stillness

of change in its wake will be total you know


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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