Sitting in a cushioned chair in his
living room, absurdly comfortable,
while he reads Georg Trakl’s late poems,
the old man, himself a poet,
drifts into a shallow sleep.
He is alone in that place
of Being, where desire and dream
reflect each other, interchange
their true amorphous
dimensions, as they flow
together, create a wide delta
which further combines them,
and finally enter the vast
solvent of the inner ocean.
The currents roiling just
beneath the surface calm
of any great ocean’s
infinitely rolling waves,
trap the old poet deeper
within the oceanic curve
of sleep. Now he will move
as if he were a creature native
to those depths, tumbling, twisting.
Deeper into sleep he plunges
unconscious but willing
to surrender to these massive
currents. A hue and cry
will be required to restore
him, whole and cogent, to
that familiar place where light
reveals desire and dream to be
things separate from each other,
each existing apart in lonely splendor.
If speech were possible (wishes will
suffice), he would summon desire
to his presence, certain she
is the embodiment of his vision.
She is the Muse he worships.
He is the poet she blesses,
and having blessed him, she
moves on to other tasks, more
pressing than making an old man
sing and dance in the voice and rhythms
of a young man. Such is desire.
It is ever of the past,
it clings to things already known,
even loved, things that brightest eyes
have held steady in passionate regard:
fingers wrapped around a flower
stem, palms moist with sudden
warmth, lips tender from hard
kisses, hands sore from writing
poem after poem. Such is
desire in its natural condition . . .
What of dream? It has
never existed, nor will it. It is
always the very age and
body of the time, and once indulged
it slips into shadows, exhausted,
spent, to restore its freshness.
It sleeps throughout days and nights,
waking briefly to listen for
the Muses’s distant harmony, when
soul and body, fully awakened,
will turn into a wild soul
and a boisterous body. Together
they will animate the aroused poet,
versed in vernacular, released in spontaneity.
The old poet in the cushioned chair
stirs, slowly awakes, leans forward
and retrieves the Trakl volume which
had fallen from his grasp as he slept.
He opens the at random, and reads:
“I lay beneath the old willow,
the blue heaven above me was full of stars.”
REVELATION AND OBLIVION