CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
From Drafts for Shelley
by Andrew Mossin
Drawn across the page in outline the figure of a boat
In medium chestnut-brown ink room to continue draws a blank.
Drawn at the top of the page
A figure drawn by hand
In outline of the boat a hand draws inside the lines
Where the hand is there is no hand
As if etched in bark small hand of letters
In the boat the man is drawing near to land without light
‘His hands unlocking from chambers of his body’
In low light a man draws the image of a boat
A line below the line ‘should be absorbed’
Scratched upon a surface of vellum
In the thin light
A boat draws near.
To hear ‘moths dying within the light’
There is one light inside of each
Without harm the way is without harm or end so it may come to us
without surprise the end is without surprise …
In the cool months what comes first
Jonquils in the May sun in the cool May light
Yellow against the white
‘morning and morning’
In the first hours in each hour
‘rafters of thigh bone and grass.’
‘so soon the days are floo\ded with light
& our house shaded against the east’
Half of heartbreak is wordless
Under the tongue’s aspirant vigil
Did we pray for the death of two
Did we pray to have one go away from us again
Small hand of letters passed between two
Mourning is a power of two made one
A boatman passing between.
It is only in relation
We find ourselves
Single in darkness when the days open
In a rush of color
‘light impeded by dark folds lit along the edges’
In a rush of odor
Banks of fresh-cut green.
‘Washing up on the beach washing back in the waves’
One is gone away without one coming back
Wander at sea go village by village light
in lifted episodes of rhapsodic memory
Their bodies brought again to the surface
Only in the reaction of two in one
The difficulty of living apart from each
Surface layers of color one by
One surfacing …
Who has come this far
no longer touches.
There is a day like no other
Unsettled moon skies white the white mind
midday moon low horizon
Let him leap back in wonder
sights unseen wonder
There is a landscape inside the landscape
One invests so much in one square of gray
Under the eaves morning draws you near
Halfhearted hope to say one says no such thing.
Gray canvas under charcoal hand over hand marred at the edges.
In its world alone the body
little by little is brought back into the curve of another
Remoter still as if to say one cannot turn
when light is low the body moves
against the tide moon barely a light scene
a burial scene inside the landscape
waves carry it out to sea
at the end of day the moon crisp & low
on the horizon.
Come late to prayer
Bend serene head scented black
Garment in each space of black
A garment hangs in back of one whose
Faith is gone
How do you invent faith anew
On the surface stones bright cut skeins
One makes a pattern of sound
Faith is a pattern of sound
Stretched tight over knuckle and wrist
Torn cloth torn gray etched surfaces cleaned by hands
Whiter from the wrist their knuckles whiter
Etched in gray stone days written out
‘A birth note written in stone a bright
birth song a form of prayer’
Reading vellum paste-down patterns
Of sound that resist the body’s effort to flee
In lines there are patterns formed from a notebook
Left on a ledge the patterns formed in a note
Sent ahead one is forming a line in one’s head all the
Time it takes to absorb one color.
Human legacy exists in portions of
Salt & sand
Difficult to qualify
Or say what it is that draws the boat
Against the green tide turned brown
Traced within a stenciled phrase
‘all that can be known by the dead
concerning that which the living fear’
N a t u r e resolves by degrees
Each darkened slip.
Make a shadow in the hand a shadow
Of oneself in shade falling across the page
One-handed when the light releases itself
Again it is one hand
Lifted against the darkness of a page
Folded in threes lifted into the air
Like a revolving figure in white
A surface of dark and light
Loved for the form of it.
A woman’s hands moving apart
Impatient hands moving in the air the impulse
Of her hands moving our hands
Apart gathering us to her
Hands gathering us out of thin air.
One no less than the other.
Our hands moving in the air to find her.
Some days are going and she is coming to find us.
The theme repeated stressing a variant.
Her hands lifted in thin air
Light of her hands lifted to receive us.
‘The outline disentangled the fire so light
a warm intermixture of shade & motion’
Flowers are a signature of our going
One wanders seacorps that hint blue stems
Blue chicory stems of salt thinned blue-tinged
White hands lifting a core of seabark
Wing-tipped leafy stems held to light
Marred branch & brittle seagrass
Burnt stitches of bark held by
Womanly wrists threaded through falling tide.
Stone cross where the path diverges.
There is familiarity in light & dark
There is this knowledge of days passing
One by one the days are
‘implied in the words of those yet to come’
Stone cross as the path crosses over … .
A window opens. Bird
song. No thing in sight.
One by one the light passing
Through open hands
‘A shadow of bright eternity’
‘A bronze of yearning, a rose that burns’
Hidden as the moon hides.
Rises as the moon
rose inside sky’s blue black
blue thronged image of a sphere
night rising moon less & less
common a sight one sighted
hour gone toward the white yellow rim of its
tilted white horn.
Recluse words painted onto surfaces
Morning stone wandered apart
White sea up against a body in mourning
Wordless branches half in shadow
But the body is distorted half in shadow its torso
Turns in the shadows of a light that comes back
As if in snowfall
White center of a pupil
Against a surface of color painted onto wood
And the hand-blocked figures
Standing in sunlight
‘A soft fire of outlines’
Under sun sealed wet grasses tree
Limbs fallen after a storm.
Power is a sign of wonder
‘And from all sounds all silence in words
Clear light & drops of rain.
In the opening sun to open his daybook & read
What was written there:
‘Shadows & gleams such spaces & every grain of light’
And everything lightening unaccustomed
12 May 2010
Note: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Pisan Winter Notebook (1820–1821) is the source for quotations, both marked and unmarked, that appear throughout this poem.
Andrew Mossin is the author of the poetry collections The Epochal Body (Singing Horse Press) and The Veil, and a book of criticism, Male Subjectivity and Poetic Form in “New American” Poetry. He has just completed a memoir, Through the Rivers: A Memoir of Theft, and a new collection of poetry, The Torture Papers.