Sunday, 14 August 2011

robert lowell

The Flaw

A seal swims lie a poodle through the sheet
of blinding salt. A country graveyard, here
and there a rock, and here and there a pine,
throbs on the essence of the gasoline.
Some mote, some eye-flaw, wobbles in te heat,
hair-thin, hair-dark, the fragment of a hair-

a noose, a question? All is possible;
if there’s freewill, it’s something likeis hair,
inside my eye, outside my eye, yet free,
airless as grace, if the good God… I see.
Our bodies quiver. In the rustling air,
all’s possible, all’s unpredictable.

Old wives and husbands! Look, their gravestones wait
in couples with the names and half the date –
one future and one freedom. In a flash
I see us whiten into skeletons,
our eager, sharpened cries, a pair of stones,
cutting like shark-fins through the boundless wash.

Two walking cobwebs, almost bodiless,
crossed paths here once, kept house, and lay in beds.
Your fingertips once touched my fingertips
and set us tingling through a thousand threads.
Poor pulsing Fête Champêtre! The summer slips
Between our fingers into nothingness.

We to lean forward, as the heat waves roll
over our bodies, grown insensible,
ready to dwindle off into the soul,
two motes or eye-flaws, the invisible…
Hope of the hopeless launched and cast adrift
on the great flaw that gives the final gift.

Dear Figure curving like a question mark,
how will you hear my answer in the dark?


Philip Deaver said...
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Philip Deaver said...

Thank you for this poem, "The Flaw," which I've been looking for for a number of years. Long ago, in my car, I kept a tape of Lowell reading at the NY Public Library, and I always found this poem so moving but hadn't been able to find it on the page. I didn't know which book of his it was in, and I've scanned the tables of contents of all of them, I'd thought. It reminds me, in texture and delivery, of "Consciousness" as read by Robert Hass at The Geraldine R. Dodge gathering a number of years ago, as posted on youtube.

swiss said...

now i can't remember where i got it. i'm fairly certain it's in selected poems. my house is in uproar otherwise i'd check! glad you liked it.