Sunday, March 18, 2012

Salt, by C.K. Williams

Abashingly eerie that just because I'm here on the long low-tide beach of age with briny time
licking insidious eddies over my toes there'd rise in me those mad weeks a lifetime ago
when I had two lovers, one who soaked herself so in Chanel that before I went to the other
I'd scrub with fistfuls of salt and not only would the stink be vanquished but I'd feel shame-shriven, pure,
which thinking about is a joke: how not acknowledge - obsolete notion or no - that I was a cad.

Luckily though, I've hung onto my Cornell box of pastness with its ten thousand compartments,
so there's a place for these miniature mountains of salt, each with its code-tag of amnesia,
and also for the flock of Donnas and Ednas and Annies, a resplendent feather from each,
and though they're from the times I was not only crass, stupid, and selfish but thoughtless -
art word for shitty - their beaks open now not to berate but stereophonically warble forgiveness.

Such an engrossing contrivance : up near a corner, in tinsel, my memory moon, still glowing,
still cruel, because of the misery it magnified the times I was abandoned - "They flee ... oh they flee ..."
I'd abrade myself then not with salt but anapests, iambs, enjambments, and here they still are,
burned in ink, but here too, dead center, Catherine, with her hand-carved frame in a frame -
like the hero in Westerns who arrives just in time to rescue the town she galloped to save me.

Well, I suppose soon the lid with its unpickable latch will come down, but the top I hope will be glass,
see-through like Cornell's, so I'll watch myself for a while boinging around like a pinball,
still loving this flipper-thing life that so surprisngly cannoned me up from oblivion's ramp,
and to which I learned to sing in my own voice but sometimes thanks be in the voice of others,
which is why I can croon now, "My lute be still ..." and why I can cry, "For I have done."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!

Surprisingly is misspelled in the last stanza if you want to fix it....

Ellen said...

I fantasize (and almost believe) that Anonymous is actually C.K. Williams....Misspelling has been duly corrected; my twelfth grade English teacher once commented that artists are always fastidious about their work. So i am putting my money on Anonymous being the writer of this magnificent poem, SALT.

Ellen said...

Wish I could change that small i to a big I. Nice irony, though ....

Ellen said...

Mr. Williams, what is a "Cornell box"?