Silt backs up.
Doors jam with more debris,
Untidy clouds invading her angle
Of sight. Using all of her
Clarity, the clear orange spilling trail
Of blood to clean a way going anywhere.
She lavishes movement, each gesture
Polyglot, each step deeper in the debris.
It’s getting deeper all the time.
Sometimes she says to herself, move.
Then, don’t move.
To look through the imbued air
Is more than she can do. The silt
All mica flakes, scales, prisms
Glittering their minute perceptions
A dance of mote and beam
Through an eternity of filtered sight.
She looks through the door-filled, cloud-filled
Room, the vast occupied interiors,
Looks along the sight-line, the fault-line,
The bee-line, only there
In the breakage, the stings and flinchings
Does blood clean a way to amnesty,
An outside to what is inside,
Precisely this—to deepen
The blood-orange salamander
Burying into an incredibly tiny flame.
TO UNDERPIN THE LIGHT OF DAY
Leaves get dusty, which is nothing.
Her legs bracket his.
More facts are needed, or are there
Enough? The moment I say
Anything, conceive of a movement, a motion,
All these words mean a concern
For each other as we watch
Through the screen door.
A fly crawls over his face, not
Of course, it’s a vision
Yet another trick, the face as vase,
For the fly discovers both with its wings
Its cellophane screens, and the taste of salt underfoot.
Appetite is encouraging, barely.
Then the vertigo as usual, a tilting of sand
Never running out, and the bad feeling
Behind my eyes, raised
Like a blind, red bruise.
It happens. Let’s remember.
We paint under the artificial lights…
Another leaf drops. This is home.
He can count more stars
Here and levels
The sandstone cliffs into
Tables where he spoons through fossils
More intricate than sadness,
In this ambulant light.
This sifting, sorting gesture.
He makes certain to miss,
Sure of his method, standing
On stairs of wet wood,
The winds channels
Voices and music as if drowning,
The house rotten,
Faces of long-dead sea creatures
Are bookmarks in
A dissolving plot where she
The leaf-shaped galaxies
Inside out within
RUNNING INTO LANGUAGE
For Jeff Vetock
Lifting my warm hand from the cold forehead
Of the dead body of my mother, I find imprinted
On the palm’s parchment, a tracery of lines
Which mean something much too much to say.
Before me, the unfinished mural
Depicts Blake and his wife, their hands
Reaching toward a bowl of fruit cocktail.
Their suburban yard is full of naked poets.
Last year my mother gave me
A birthday present, a tilt-awhirl maze
Of interlocking balsa wood parts.
I found this would float, so I began
Running, running and floating
A hundred laps in the family pool.
Lately, the sky has become a better hobby,
A blue surround into which I surrender myself,
Saying in all innocence, “But I have no experience!”
See, this cliff is glass and transparently so.
Tomorrow a bus will stop next door
In the parking lot of language.
My father will step off, glance at his watch
And open his arms to greet me.
If I could shake you off,
I might regain equanimity, be able-bodied,
Carry my stomach tight with cramped blood
Demurely again, the stitch inside
Stitching itself back
Hem and tuck.
Unnoticed, uncommented upon as once more
I walk into an evening alone
Watched only by those cloudy, skirty moons.
I survive by hiding, allow
My hopes to fester,
Green and intricate.
Surviving means reflect, turn around, let go
Of the more than panhandle, trust
In a perfume less flammable
Than his mouth at the cup.
The two of us imitate a truer form,
The pretense of locating the beginning of a need—
The flowery bower of go on.
We cannot shift places, though the sheets
Gather our bodies like the tumbling straw.
We must remain. The gate is open
But the guard is on his way down.
Act as though you do believe.
Pascal said that.
I act as though your name
Were a sore on the edge of my tongue.
Non pace, Pascal.
I walk down the stairs. It’s either
Stand here or keep moving.
Vertigo coming on.
What will happen to me?
When I fall, the ground is so
Familiar and regained that
I feel I have come home.
The chatter all night sounds like crickets
From all parts of the field, each call repeated
With minute variation,
Each one coming before or after, punctuated,
Distinguishable in the distances and
A single chime, now and then
Of wind hitting glass against the same.
Dust storms move outside the walls of my room
With dogs and more voices and a flapping.
I run the palms of my hands
Against the surfaces to feel if there’s a vibration,
Like nothing can hurt me.
“Well, why can’t you go to somebody, to help you?”
I said I was thinking of becoming less…anxious…
Anxious, no use
To make myself upset about it,
Calling him at a different number
Each time, with the same line.
SHE IS AS THIN AS MEMORY
The days slip. Shod with loosening shoes
She relinquishes more than usual, no
Instinct toward that time she’ll regain
A foothold on her falling. Everything
Is more of less than what she wants, catching
What catch can, swimming among the hundred
Arms of the sea anemone, eating traces
Of diatoms, half-glimpsed shooting stars
In the long blue drink he hands her.
Somewhere a rock slaps down, all on its own,
To startle her, and the tentacles close
And the oceanic music cries on.
In our waiting, he tells her, so much splinters
From our lives, we must hurry and hide
What doesn’t fit. Jam it all back in.
She tries to try. Too deep inside her heart
She polishes the rough edges, thinned to chaos
Beating and thrumming through her body
Like guitarists tapping their soundless
Strings, like the faint quivering edges
In the newly open rose, before time
Blows it all away.
Yes, try, but reality speaks saying no.
She needs what’s out there to stop being
Fish scales and dead floats,
The plastic debris suffocating her—
Images lost from memory.
An impossible landscape enters
The view a thin slice
Of all that she has done, imprismed
In a camera,
Now reckoned at the junction
Of light in a lost frame.
Former university teacher and poet, Carol Lynn Gunther, born June 2, 1954, had to retire in 2006 because of worsening symptoms of multiple sclerosis which have made it difficult to drive, walk, read and write. Through her teaching, she has touched the lives of hundreds of students at National University, Golden Gate University, University of Phoenix and USF’s College of Professional Studies. For more than 30 years, she taught a variety of writing, literature, humanities and communications courses to adult students and conducted several creative arts workshops on a freelance basis. She was named Teacher of the Year at USF’s CPS in 1994.
She earned an MFA in poetry, an MA in British Literature and a Ph. D. in American literature at UC Irvine. Her most influential teachers there were poets Heather McHugh, Mark Strand and Charles Wright. Other influences have been George Oppen, Rainier Maria Rilke, Charles Simic, John Ashberry, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman.
Ms Gunther has had over sixty poems published in various journals through the years. While a student at UC Irvine, she twice won the Academy of American Poets first prize. Her poems have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Poetry Prize by the editor of Branches Quarterly. She edited and published Protea Poetry Journal for four years and during that time, she published Adagio of the Body by Richard Cronshey.
After being afflicted by secondary progressive MS, she has had to retire early from professional teaching but has been conducting a creative writing workshop at the Amador County Senior Center in Jackson, CA.
A Sutter Creek, CA resident since 1989, Ms Gunther enjoys visiting with friends, listening to music, playing with her beloved cat, and watching birds.