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I Am Here

                         for Naomi, later

 

               1

I want to speak to you while I can,

in your fourth year before you can well understand,

before this river

white and remorseless carries me away.

 

You asked me to tell you about death. 

I said nothing.  I said

 

This is your father,

this is your father like water,

like fate,

like a feather circling down.

 

And I am my own daughter

swimming out,

a phosphorescence on the dark face of the surf.

 

A boat circling on the darkness.

 

               2

She opens her eyes underwater.  The sun climbs.

She runs, she decapitates flowers.

The grass sparkles.  Her little brother laughs.

She serves meals to friends no one has seen.

She races her tricycle in circles.

I come home.  The sun falls.

 

               3

You eat all day. 

You want to be big.  "Look how big!"

you cry, stretching your arms to heaven,

your eyes stretched

by all the half-terrified joy of being in motion.

 

The big move clumsily, little love,

as far as I can see.

They break everything

and then they break

and a pool of decayed light sinks back into the earth.

 

Writing these words tonight,

I am coming to the end

of my 35th year.  It means nothing to you,

but I rejoice, and I am terrified,

and I feel something I can never describe.

They are so much the same,

so much the sun blazing on the edge of a knife....

 

We are little children,

and my face has already entered the mist.

 

               4

I hear you cry out

in the blackened theater of night.

I go in and hold you in my arms

and rock you, watching

your lips working, your closed eyelids

surge with the nightly vision.

 

               5

I get lost too, Naomi,

in a forest that suddenly rises

from behind my skullbone on a night of no moon.

Stars hang in the black branches,

great, small,

glittering like insoluble crimes,   

calling me, over and over,    

toward that thick darkness under the trees.

I turn, trembling, to run,

but it is everywhere.

 

                  6

I wanted to give you something but

always give you something else.

 

What do you call it when it is underground

like a cold spring in the blood,

when it is a poem written out of naked fear,

and love, which is never enough,

when it is my face, Naomi,

my face

from which the darkness streams forth?

 

The petal falls,

the skin crumbles into dirt,

consciousness likewise crumbles

and this is one road the squirrel will not cross again.

 

I was here, Naomi,

 

I will never be back,

but I was here,

I was here with you and your brother.

 

Robert Mezey

 

 

From Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
Arkansas Press, 2000.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

Background
by Grapholina


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