Saturday, January 3, 2009

Poem: Florida

Florida

This evening walk around Lettuce Lake
begins on the planks of good intentions.
Palm fronds droop, like fingers over railing, over land
sliding below wetland, and weeds
yielding along an indeterminable wave to duckweed,
a false green carpet to the door of the lake.
Bald cypresses, wearing beards of moss, sit
surprised in water, their grayish knees
breathing above the rootless bladderworts.
Here, the wading bird is king, the Great Egret
picking its way between land and lake,
spearing the temporary frog to an unexpected hump of ground.
Here, the roseate spoonbill swirls the mud.
Even the osprey, which nests in feathertips of trees,
must bury itself in the lake, wings held up
like an archaic angel landing on a gravestone,
before rising with silver in its beak.
And here, reads the sign in stainless steel raised by park authorities,
is Alzheimer’s Walk
that travels two feet above the bog, two feet
from the leafy stink, but does not sink.

*

3 comments:

Eshuneutics said...

This is a disconcerting poem, one with many tones. I like the opening and how it combines cliché with the literal. “A road to hell” shadows the opening. I wonder about the word “begins”. As a verb, it doesn’t do much. The uncertainty that comes with the simile,catches something of the uncertainty that comes with memory loss. The “door of the lake” is an intriguing image since it suggests a portal to some other world of the mind: a deceptive entrance. The “Bald cypresses” leads to a fine piece of personification that shows mind, through age, entering nature. Perhaps, subconsciously you are recalling the Baucis myth here in which old age—through the gift of the deceptive Hermes—is allowed to enter the divine natural world. In the following lines, I am a little lost. As a reader, I am taken back to the objective surface. Perhaps, this is intentional: I am meant to be pulled back to a world of objective perception. The spoonbill image resonates, for me, better that the Great Egret. The “stirring of the mud” seems to be the image that develops the poem—the spoonbill’s “stirring” brings with it cooking, creating, mixing the elements of creative mud from which life comes and to which life returns. The “osprey” image is stunning, pure Shakespeare (or Shelley?), merging life and death, animate and inanimate matter is a compound image. Beautiful. (Do you know Shelley’s theory of Platonic forms and the poetic image?).
The "s" in “sign in stainless steel” adds a dull, pedestrian sound to the image: solid. And the conclusion brings all the elements together…not sure about the internal rhyme…it adds a jocular feel that isn’t (to my ear) with the rest of the poem. It has an ironical feel to it, like Larkin,…don’t know! Florida, flora, “flowers of the field”…a precarious State and state.

Eshuneutics said...

"in a compound image"
Whoops.
I really do like this poem.

Zainad said...

Intense work!