Next Poem

Two weekends ago Sam, Marianna, Adrienne, Matt, Emilio, and David’s brother Doug were all here for the weekend.  When David and I got up on Saturday morning, Sam and Marianna were up with Emilio, letting Adrienne and Matt get some extra morning sleep. David and I were both still under the spell of the poetry play we’d done the day before, and asked Sam and Marianna to help us generate a list of words to serve as writing prompts for the day.  The list:  green, lush, blue, constitutional monarchy (that’s Sam), stare, oar, amble.  I was too busy cooking and playing with Emilio and being in the middle of day full of family to write a poem, but David did, and here it is.

The Laws of Nature

There are equations for the road’s convergence,
edges crossing the height of land to have
the last word before leaving the scene.
Those rules of perspective were worked out long ago
when people could still stare at things without moving.
Once there was one world,
a ruler came straight from the sun
and measurement was by the monarch’s foot.
Now lush governance has overgrown the arch.
The seen is changed by being seen.
No thing is any one thing and time has no place.
The wind sweeps oars through the grasses,
their bending reeds,
the light greening gold
then bruising the shadows blue,
darting for the bait beneath
the arc of a shallow sun.
A turkey can fly,
but tonight it falls out of the tree.

David hadn’t yet sent his poem from the morning with Sharon Olds to the others who were there, and when he did send that poem, he included this one.  Bill wrote back to David, with the following comments on this poem.

I really like The Laws of Nature. You’ve captured something essential about what feels to me like the shift from the Newtonian universe to the relativistic world that came with Einstein and Heldelberg and modern physics and art.

What I find even more intriguing is that last part, with the imagery of the grasses and the shadows, because for me it opens a door to a third possibility–the world that indigenous people knew, before abstract language, where there was one world but a much different kind of physics, much more fluid and connected. I’ve come across some work in the shamanic traditions that tries to convey what that world was like, and how to revive it in some ways for putting our broken world together again.

So your piece has invited me to look deeper in that third realm. I’ll let you know what I find there.

I love what Bill says about David’s poem and take it as confirmation of what I’ve thought about David as a poet since I met him.  He’s a natural.  He’s spent very little of his adult life writing poetry, yet he has a true ear and great sense of detail, movement and how to make surprising shifts and turns. What fun for me.

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About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
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