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Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Two Feathers


File:Types de plumes. - Larousse pour tous, -1907-1910-.jpg

A missing girl skips past the abandoned school yard.

In plate glass, the phantom images of shadow people are blown hither and thither, like straw persons, their movement surreptitious as in underworld areas of ingress to panhandle and retreat. A shuffle promenade, not quite a progress.

Wrecked fields where torn papers scatter in the wind.

Children would play amid the waste, were there children, were the missing children here.

Above the play structures the two feathers hang in the trees, among the branches. A small red shimmering light and a small white shimmering light.

The wind moaning, the dog someone beats distantly howling, but the dark need not fear the dark.

Half the sky for praying, the other half for the beauties of the night.


Plumes: Adolphe Millot, in Larousse pour tous: nouveau dictionnaire encyclopédique (1907-1910)
Salat times: image by LooiNL, 2007


Anonymous said...

dark and powerful. you can read the lines bottom to top or at random and you get a bunch of different poems. in fact it seems each line is a poem by itself or could be the begiining to or a part of a totally new poem.

such as if i may:

All of life for death.

"Half the sky for praying, the other half for the beauties of the night."

A third of life for growing, a third of life for striving and a final third for understanding.

A quarter of the night for dreaming, a quarter for poems,
a quarter for the unknown adventure and a quarter of the night for my lover.

TC said...


Many thanks. Yes, this one spooks me a bit. Just some things I saw (or didn't see) and couldn't figure out. Quite a bit of that these nights. Scary. Yet more and more I grow to like what I cannot understand, that enormous category.

Not sure "like" is quite the right word, possibly should say "am overwhelmed by".

(A lovely comment this, by the way, but never show it your lover. Nobody likes being quarter-timed!)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I am thinking these words of yours are very strong. They are so, because when I read such, there is an uneasy ache within me.
One thing I am in a puzzlement over though is ' were there children' I read it as 'where their children' Tell me I am wrong and banish my puzzlement within.
I shall be taking these words (all of them) away with me.Know that.

~otto~ said...

this is going to sound like an echo but

loved loved loved the ending

Anonymous said...

she knows that without the other quarters, her piece of me would be less. i am a lucky man

aditya said...

There is this underlying ache/pain running throughout this text. Sorrow is unconventionally beautiful. Sometimes. You just reassured me, of my belief.

"In plate glass, the phantom images of shadow people are blown hither and thither, like straw persons, their movement surreptitious as in underworld areas of ingress to panhandle and retreat. A shuffle promenade, not quite a progress."

Enchanting. Like Zevstar's comment above :)

Enchanting. Pr

TC said...


Well, this one was born of an uneasy ache, like a small wind that blows inside your soul and won't leave off.

By "were there children" I meant to say "if there were children".

Some of these images I did see, some not. The "did see" is a sort of composite of the night winter streets.

There is a homeless man I have spoken a few words with every evening for some years now. He would harm no one. Last week he told me he had been approached by law, questioned and searched three evenings in a row. "Somebody abducted a kid." The fears and sorrows of the city night.

Okay, Otto, I had secretly hoped you would approve that closing line. This time the ending came well before the beginning. (Happens that way often.)

Zev, this is the mathematics of paradise. With two percent of a man like you, one might work wonders. (I'm hardly worth a nickel.)

Aditya, why is it that around you I feel a little less tiresome with my sorrows? Is it your companionable melancholy?


Beautiful poem, Tom, didn't see it until today, and all comments now too. And in the parallel universes we inhabit, some resonances too (to "shadow," "small red shimmering light," the flatness of that picture. . . .


pale pink line of cloud above still black
trees, red-tailed hawk calling on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

that is, acclimated to that
appearance of showing

before being, made aware of
flatness, to see what

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
shadowed green slope of ridge across it

aditya said...

I had conjured up something similar to what you explained.

It is very beautiful, as I read it again and again.

Sue Ann Simar said...

The Two Feathers

The last line of this poem has drawn many comments. i read this as half is what we pray for/hope for/can't really clarify--arises from loss/mishap/hazard--is man-made, Idea.

The other half is what Is--Nature Is--what is Seen. When you take away the Saying (praying), you're left with "beauties," Beauty--

the poem ends with a sense of the infinite, balanced with a sense of the finite...

An apocalyptic poem--a missing girl, an abandoned school yard, phantom images...blown hither and thither...
It's disturbing to hear "Children WOULD play...were there children"...
the feathers hang like angels "above the play structures"--one red, one white--We're left with two feathers (a word close to fathers), the plumage of the bird rather than the bird, two shimmering lights.

TC said...

Sue Ann,

Thank you, this helps. The poem "came" without being sought, and I tried not to argue with it.

Much of what I see in roaming the streets at night -- always as if seeing through some semi-opaque medium, clarities appearing and then vanishing in such a way as to make me wonder if I have seen what I have seen or merely hallucinated it -- has indeed taken on a curious apocalyptic shading in recent weeks and months; and how much of this has to do with "objective" history and how much with pure subjective imaginal estrangement, I cannot really say. But I can't lose the feeling that something is going on which is not being spoken of: whether because it is not being noticed or because there is no language with which to speak of it, once again I cannot say.

The two feathers were there in the dark branches; and then they were not.