Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Painting the Lake

My cousin Rick passed away several years ago. He had been living on borrowed time and he knew it. I didn’t. He came to a poetry reading once with me; I was one of the featured readers. Maybe he was trying to accomplish certain things and maybe reading a poem in public was one of those things. At the open reading he read one of his poems. I remember his self-effacing but humorous manner at the mike, much like the everyday man that I knew. His poem was well-received and I wish I remembered it. This weekend I was told about one of the last times he spent at his summer cottage. This poem tries to do him and his time there justice. So this is about one of his last poems—because I want to remember this time.
Reading Rick's Last Poem (at his Summer Cottage)

Two weeks before my cousin died,
          he passed
the weekend all
          alone, revisiting
the lake, and painted
          everything in sight
the color yellow. Of course,
          not everything—

but his efforts were manifestly
          present:
he paints the dock
          sun-yellow; paints the boat
a buoyant
          yellow; paints the picnic table
buttery yellow; paints
          a wooden chair

a deep celebratory
          yellow too.
He paddles his canoe
          one mile across
the length of Half Moon Lake
          and eyes this rock—
a glacial boulder looming
          over the shoreline,

a grand erratic released
          ten thousand years
ago from God-knows-where—
          and lastly paints
a champagne-colored
          half-moon on its face
to toast their temporary
          resting place.

~Son Rivers 2005
Shop talk. The poem was written originally in pentameter lines. But it felt too static to me. And so I just broke the pentameter, striving to create allusive abstract lines, in much the same way as the photos I’ve been digitalizing. Some could argue that it’s the weakness of the lines themselves that created the overall weakness. But I was attempting to stick to a particular narrative, yet maintain some ultimate significance. For now, I think it works.

2 comments:

garnet said...

the last two stanza's really pick up, roll. nice. sad/happy story about your cousin. so you didn't know?

Since I write some poetry on my blog, I'd like to have you come and visit sometime. If you like it, would you consider a link?

Thanks, G

shyloh said...

You have some excellent poetry here. I have enjoyed reading. The pictures are very nice also a nice touch.
Aloha to you!