PAGE 4 - N.C. ESSAY
When I was a child
I wanted to be Jesus
and walk across the water
to feel the salt between my toes.
When I was a young man
I thought I was Jesus
but the spikes were too painful
my prayers unheard
and Easter never came.
Now I am a tired man
I do not need to be Jesus
the spikes do not matter
and I utter no prayer
When I am an old man
(singer of bitter songs)
I will want to be God
and I will tell all the children
they cannot be Jesus.
by Robin Kapfan
Photo by Kaplan
Nighttime Song (In Memoriam)
by Mary Woodell
i stayed a night
in a house of people who were once in love;
i swam through heavy currents
and got lost in their Uves’ labyrinthine grotto.
i felt the swarming ripples,
the spirit of someone
who’d laid him down easy
and long ago.
i listen^; and heard nothing.
they polited each other
and played house
all for me.
the children romped and shouted.
i watched and applauded
and i asked them why
(our eyes did for ears and tongues):
we have buried our dead.
“we have laid it down quiet
“and long ago.”
i touched; and felt nothing.
but when everybody slept that night, finally,
and i caught it.
-fragile as the dandelion ghosts ‘
that children blow for wishes-
i could not come too close,
lest it take flight from my breathing,
but i held it in my palms
(though the tiny thing trembled)-
i would not let it go.
i felt a breeze of butterflies prisoned in a finger basket,
invisibly seeking escape,
i waited in darlmess and quiet,
and it stilled.
the cup of my joined hands grew wanner
slowly, so slowly, the light unfurled
like a frightened moonflower
and spread out on my hands’ lined floor,
it fragranced the dankness of unused air.
i heard murmurings;
of pin> needles combing out the wind,
of underwater dead men and their mates,
of lovely houses,
and of people who had been in love;
and i was filled with songs of ages and constellations.
the last petals of light unspiralled.
and i held in my hands (though i thought i dreamed)
a tiny man with woman’s breasts
pulsing with light and crouched in a ball;
the shining beard caressed his knees
and rainbows were caught in the tangled hair.
his wings flatfolded against his back,
a little runner tensed for go.
its pale and luminous pinprick eyes never loosed my face
as the creature stiffly rose to standings
aided by a silver shepherd’s cro(*,
slim as a slanting line of rain.
he stood before me
naked as water and open as air,
silent, awaiting my command.
“hello,” i said at last, staring back in kind,
for i (Udn’t quite believe.
“who are you?”
“you stupid fool,” he snapped.
“you got eyes, ain’t you?”
and he forgot me before i could reply.
“when the house was through and they all moved in,
“i knew it then and there.
“all those kids and that damn’ paraquite-
“i knew it couldn’t last.
“ever, ever, or at all.”
i tried to ask what all this meant
but he didn’t hear;
he went right on in reminiscence.
“i could have told ’em,
“if only they’d of asked.
“people got no common sense these days.
“Christmas ’61 was a lot of fim, though.
“before they all grew up
“to acne and the opposite sex.
“too bad, too bad. the mating urge is a damn’ nuisance.
“Christmas ’61, yes. only the four of them
“and me. i was around all the time
“in those days.
“robbie and chuck were five and six
“(it’s ‘roberta’ and ‘chas’ ten years later)-
“the babies weren’t even thought of.
“just the five of us at Christmas.
“he gave her a flimsy nightgown
“you could see straight through.
“she blushed, ‘for the children’s sake.’
“the children laughed and laughed.
“and she gave him a golden pocket watch
“(he’d wanted one for years)
“and everybody crowd^ and kissed.”
“but what about you?” i asked him in a pause.
he said it with a sad disgust.
“i could have lived forever
“but they simply wouldn’t learn.
“they took it for granted
“and took my sight
“and they stretched me too far
“and they laid me down dying
“and long ago.”
the light in my hands rose once
and then died once more.
i brushed the ashes from my hands
and went to bed.
i slept without dreaming,
and left the next day,
by the back door.
The Hero’s Last Words
“We live like a sigh to the wind,
We feed the sun with blood
And vanish, like God, behind laws.”
He cut his flesh like melon!
To live in fragments no longer,
He betrayed the isolation that was breath,
The beast and the monk.
Here wind listened, sky opened,
And light fell full on his Ufe.
He left his body lying,
A sprawled thing now.
In the happiness of tiie knife.
A people’s quick-nutured passions,
Separated like shore points.
Remitting, infold in pursuit
Of a severed stream.
Dogs bark for joy in their cellars;
Oowds, like niilky wounds, enshroud him
In a vision not bom from Uie masses.
In The Jungle City
“Get rid of this nuisance, Sandhu!
He sways our trellises with climbing,
Our vines wither at his glance;
In the day, he brings clouds over us.
At night he makes this house moan.
Even the dogs are humble in his presence!”
“Our trellises sway with the wind.
Our vines wither with your neglect;
The clouds clip the sun.
This house moans always.
Even dogs know that he will do them no harm!
If he and I died at this moment,
We would embrace in your si^t, shaking with tears.
The Fall of Other Men
Above the declivity, we watched.
Mournfully,the fall of other men;
Though we forged their wounds.
We mock their scars.
From where we stood
The stars could be numbered;
Yet we are counted among the dead.
And the dying sketch our faces
In fevered dreams.
Strain to recall our disburdened passage
Into the hallowed Ixink of self-e^e.
Into the sift of the world,
Where together we stood, indecisively,
In love tlut lasted a breath.
And gave nothing its name.
by E. Henry Power
Tracks of animals lead through ice and snow
and take us where no one has lately gone.
In the end, they must surely stop,
for all must end somewhere.