Spring/Summer 1994, Volume 11.2
Poetry


ALLAN JOHNSTON


See other poetry published in Weber Studies by Allan Johnston: Vol. 6.2Vol. 14.2Vol. 17.0,  and  Vol. 19.3.

 

A Clear Glass

Sunlight canes along the terrace, brailling
its last warmth on a woven iron railing.
A clear glass sits on a glass table top
beside the bottle, by the hand that curls
to the shape of the glass, as if in grasping,
though ashes of burnt cigarettes deny grasping.

I can put my face to the hand, remember
forgotten summers and smokes; if I close my eyes
the scent of air comes liquid clear, and captures
an ocean some two thousand miles away.
There seasons will not turn, or just the slightest
shift in temperature attends the passing
of another equinox, the floating
sunlight from its long rule of hours.

A blue dart of water, the scent of iodine,
the chalky, flaking cliffs crumbling to meet
the sand dunes ripe with fat, sausagy fingers
and mauve anenomes of Hottentot Fig,
and the rough yellow flowers bending seaward,
as if to find the image of some island,
or else to wash forever in such water
as never knows the paucity of winter.

The slight recoloration of the leaves
beyond the railing speaks of summer's ending
before the fingers grasp the fact, recover
the sentence fragment, the ash snake trailing away
into the ashtray. I will not remember
the further journey of this day to night.
This evening, when I write this, I will know
how grass burns under the drop of weather,

how mercury plunges its red eye
outside the window. The air will not grow fonder
of the cold cloud I'll create in breathing,
the nuts the squirrels bury, or the dead
that fall from trees in the sudden choke of freezing
in nights beyond walls. Through the sluggish turn
to snow, I'll feel the lapse of all perturbment
about the aperture of my revisions,
and know the foreign depth of my departure
from warmth to dark, the night that covers the soul;

gasping past breath in the thought of grasping,
leaving the simplest thought forever past grasping.
 
Waking

This ceramic slip of sky
holds a moon
too still to be real
a moon you have dreamt of
and yet not that moon
an eggcup of sleep
that laughs in the soft wash
of dawn
your hand
moves out of sleep
to your mouth there are cobwebs
on the window
light falls through the room
and beyond
uncut fields of grass
bring joy to birds

it is of this
you have been dreaming
the moon that shimmers
the unnecessary moon
in eaves where swallows
glide in light
and spiders whisper
out the whims
of their webs

clouds bleed
over scars of mountains

we roll and touch in sleep
in this way we waken

 
To See Water
                                                                    The lake
lies beyond the buildings. Only the noise from the shore,
the calls of strollers and the muffled sounds of stereos,
leak this far in the air
on a breeze that seems only to wish
to lift the pulled sash of the room
where the sleepers lie in the heat, windows open,
faces smothered in pillows.

                         I do not know
how to explain to you the way
the breeze from the lake seeps over and around the buildings,
the way it lifts the sash like a dying hand
off the pink, dark window.
I can offer nothing
out of this except another morning
when one wakes in heat to face work one wants to be happy with,
as if the wind did not itself express
all of the purpose of a morning
in the rise and fall of a sash that lets in light,
the careless drag of the air in the spin of the planet,
the ceaseless lapping of the lake,
and the laughter of those
who through flies and muggy air
step over broken glass
to see water;

to see if water holds anything beyond flatness.
They stare out into the sluggish currents,
the insipid wash of the waves, as I rise
to go to work, and sit and read the news.
 
Pavane

There is no song but the turning leaves
the taste of ice in the wind
russet land

Here
with my violin in my hand
I have found the tune

I cannot play