Thales

And, of course, this is not
the beginning nor the end.
The river flows past
into itself, persistently
recreating the present,
“the echo of the future.”
I recreate myself into myself
or into what I dream
is necessary for what awaits
my day.  In this dream I am
who I am, unlike the last 
where I was simply myself
disguised as myself.  Someone
hiding from the flow of events
hiding from myself through
a relentless hunt for my
self like a kitten twirling
in pursuit of her tail
so caught up in the frenzy
no self-mutilation becomes
too great a sacrifice to justify.
In the end I am left with what 
I initially possessed, the process
leaving little but a trace, a gray
hair or two, a wrinkle, possibly
a scar, to mark my passage 
from morning into dusk. 
The ephemeral lacks meaning,
only hints at a deeper turmoil,
a deeper drive.  The chance
encounter of happenstance
in a field of possibility
opens geometrically
flower upon flower
a kaleidoscope of orchid
and rose transforming the field
from summer to winter
within the span of a thought.
I dip my hand down into
the stream, cupping the water 
into air.  Momentarily, the water
encases my hand like liquid glass,
or a fly permanently abuzz
in amber, or ice melting from leafless 
branches.  Droplets fall, catch
the light in crystalline dazzle,
before being absorbed back 
into the stream’s unrelenting
rush toward the sea. Yet here, 
furtively watching from the bank
among the emergent fern fronds 
and  dead pine needles, 
the river is the same.
The rock in the center tosses 
froth nonchalantly to either side
as if it were a great man-of-war
perpetually steaming upstream.
An example, easy enough, of optimism
or yet, just another study in futility?
The river bank provides mud
which I shape figures to play
out my domesticated dramas.
All the players, including myself, safe
behind the refiguring mask of mud.
The lines flow neither with the fluidity
of water, nor with the solidity of the earth,
but with an evasiveness that speaks
of nothing it does not infer, 
while referring to everything  in order
to hide beneath the flurry of facts 
the truth that there is nothing to hide,
nothing:  no simpering secret
waiting for sudden exposure;
no misshapen madness
lurking in ambush;
no oaths to be broken;
nothing, not even the air 
it takes to speak these parched
phrases, only a cold vacuity
where silence echoes unheard.
Beneath the dramas and the dreams,
the river runs chiding the surrounding
rock to chew upon itself, a trapped
wolf savoring the metallic taste of  blood
flowing into the melting snow. What
grows from this incarnadine
earth emerges without sacrifice’s
stain, without knowledge of the skin
shed.  Death’s debt we rarely
acknowledge – – the inarticulate awe.
To speak is to commit, to expose
more than my words, my desire
to transform, to translate all,
to redefine, to challenge perspective.
Yet, how much change is created 
by the utterance of a few new words?
Synonyms provide no new parallax 
from which to aim a new course.
Through chant or rant the tongue 
traduces these same lips.

(from Ambiguous Demarcation, 1997)

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