A Tale of the Great Smokies - Penelope Spins

A Tale of the Great Smokies

and there she wept for Odysseus

Turn from the word
turn away, he said, schooled in silence.
Made a true wheel, then easy
as breathing, moved down the river
poling his skiff into mist.
Thin neck
stiffening, set up to catch the winds of this world
in the long hot shaft of our dying summer.

Loving too much, not enough maybe, hardly a
seeker but cheerful. He had his illusions –
we were one of them.
Things went much as usual.
Maybe the stars had a hand in it,
or the one fixed star of my own
grim seeking whose light
blurs my sight like a
drunkard’s candle.

Tread air, tread light
silent as dust riding darkness.
Treadle and turn,
black bobbin fat in my fingers.

Soft as moth’s breath,
threads sip through tides of my handling,
wordless to wait on his coming,
fixed in my longing for speech.

Compostblack currant
fodder horse urine
hickory smoke
Breath lives,
wavers within.
Far below, wide
over the valley burn farmlights
through fog. Dusty signals from
neighbouring hearths.

Tread air, tread light
silent as sleepers in darkness
treadle and turn, unlearn
the bulk of our being, unwind
the tight bobbin. Stand
naked as two spindles saying
in one deep-drawn breath
“I am”.

Tread air, tread light
turn again, little wheel.
Darkness has secrets that
light never owns.

From Fay Zwicky Poems 1970-1993 (UQP, 1993) Fay Zwicky. Reprinted with permission of the author

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