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Winter 2001, Volume 18.2

Poetry

 

Denis Sivack
photo of Denis Sivack.

 

Writer, occasional book artist, and photographer, Denis Sivack teaches creative writing and writing skills. He has written and lectured on the photographers Alfred P. Maudslay and Frederick Sommer and on the use of language in photographic literature. He has a special interest in the natural sciences and regularly volunteers as a field worker on research teams in conservation biology, anthropology, and archaeology in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the American West. Current publications include an essay in Quarter After Eight and poetry in Gargoyle.

 

The Halls of Sleep

Villa Lobos,
the halls of sleep
are quiet as guitars.
In you I have a place
where I will bring no one.
 
I will not share you
in a trio with another
as I have made the Holy Ghost
of Bach.
 
A man must have a sacred place
where the hollow inside him
speaks between the strings of dreams,
where dread and passion
spend their song
without the clapped hands of affirmation.
 
When I hear you
my whole being finds cells
I had not known.
No longer a wanderer,
I move from hall to hall
as age moves through the gray beard
of the wise.
 
When I am found,
in the land of wakefulness
by the hand of the infinite shadow,
let them say,
that I had put down my lantern,
that I had stopped looking for Blake;
that in your music
I had taken my separate selves
to meet with the great

mediator of grief,
that I had made music
quiet as the chord
that holds the moon.
 
Let them say
that my life was not the silence
of the talcumed rubber glove,
or the coldness
of steel instruments upon a table.
 
Let them say
that in the land of the alone,
in the rooms
along the halls of sleep,
I had chosen separateness;
 
that the cellos,
the guitars,
the wood, the strings,
the bodies of women,
are singing of themselves
because I heard a greater song.
 
Let them believe
that in pulling the night around me
I had taught the dead
to dream again,
that somewhere in this music
the last dancer's footprints
are singing to the darkening skies.

 

To Know These Cliffs

One learns to walk differently
in strange sandals.
They may be tooled with the horns
of the goat
or unicorn.
They may be made with straps
or the foot may slip freely
into them.
 
Once I walked with the tough skin of lizards
over hot rocks, torn with lava pools
of the first sun.
Like lizards these feet went
blind and swift.
They were not wise,
did not seek after the shade.
 
Now they are bound
in toughness to learn
only by where they go.
 
Tonight I remove these sandals
as a test to walk
by the light of the sky.
It is more difficult with unsure footing
under constellations named by the storytellers
who brought the alphabet to the poets
of wise silence.
 
I am love's fool to know these cliffs
as the border
of the moon. Here, when I think I am alone,
I see you, always at the edge
as I am,
riding naked on horseback,
your hair flowing freely where there is no wind.
 
One is not so mad to be touched by the moon
as not to touch it back.
Love, in this darkness,
I can hear you singing.
Come down to me.
I will meet you
with the bare feet
of the dancer.

 

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