Three poems from Scanning for Tigers
Dusting With The Cat
Her sinewy self, her mood, allows us our
game. I hold her loosely round the ribs
just back of the forelegs. We trace
figure eights and each
begets another. Her purring revs,
spun by turns into a vocal gleam.
She doesn’t care that she’s a rag, that
dust has her. We’re locked in the luster of
movement, building layers like a pearl.
We’re drunk on the wine of slow motion a
certain speed achieves. What speed I
cannot say, though the fluent cat does—
her song spliced with pauses
where the orbits intersect.
We’re burnishing our years into the
surface of my desk: her proverbial nine,
my uncertain number.
But a swinging cat cares not for count,
living for sensation, and a
wild woman always believes
she has more time.
Icarus In Reverse
See me sucked from sea’s brine, cry
returned to my mouth pulls in preceding
shriek that inhales gasp before
then there’s no more nor do my wings
betray but pluck treacherous pinions—here, there,
snatched with a marvelous fury from air
feathers fly dart-wise into wax, bigger quills
double-secured by thread considered in
construction and swift as water winks at sun
wax cools to capture shafts as
threads manic and precise continue
counter-lash and knot. Don’t stop—let me rise
tumbling upward to grace, gaining back
errant feathers that home like arrows to
target--their bronze boy regaining control—There!
There’s the wing beat where first I faltered.
Now I soar swoopily backward, mouth open
in glee, dropping altitude till I beat by my
father’s side, passing on our left
Samos and Delos, while on our right Lebynthos whizzes
by as below ploughman and shepherd share brief
cameos, one pointing, the other leaning on his
staff lest he fall down as we flap
snap/snap to the island. See us touch earth, toe to heel, my
father unkiss me, untake my face in his hands,
tears race up his cheeks.
He says: “…safe be will you and near me Keep.
.them melt will heat the high too if…” and so on,
all that he says lost to the speed-slur of the tape
that pauses only if you do. Don’t pause—let our
efforts be shorn from the footage, clipped
till we stand yearning at cliff’s edge. You’ll
sense how time clambers with us in our descent,
handhold by foothold, our labors
collapsing inward, crazed and intent.
I beg you, hurry. Again, Minos imprisons us.
Faster! Let the thing be done. I prefer
this grounding to the flying. Prefer my
father’s anguish to my own dying.
While I stood watching, the water began to well,
yielding up circle after circle, and presently
the sorcerer rose sleekly from beneath
and broke the surface. Not the end of the spell
but the outset, beguiled by the way the dark
head plied the blacker surface and the back’s
bit of island followed wherever it led. From the
bank above, I spied down. I had embarked
without knowing upon my own erasure. Gone
into ripples ringing outward. Dipped in bliss.
Water like ink held me in a world unwritten.
The buoyant one shimmered and shone.