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Saturday, 2 January 2010

West of the Rails


.


File:North America satellite globe.jpg





The last of a succession of ranges
That had been thought endless
Crashes against the unregarding ocean.

Those hills are still here. Sinking slowly.
Soon, standing on them, it will be possible
To look back to the east

And truly see nothing
Of what we have crossed over
For the first time.





North America: satellite photo by NASA, 2005


18 comments:

~otto~ said...

Island life in the Rockies. We can rename them New Hawaii.

TC said...

Pacifica is falling into the Pacific, the Rockies are falling into their own rocks.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Ah, Tpm, the edge of the continent, on one side land "formations" . . . "and on the other" . . . .

1.2

first grey light in sky above still black
ridge, white circle of moon above branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

position, lined on one side
and on the other with

formations, following “verb”
writing, of “grammar”

whiteness of clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green canyon of ridge across it

leigh tuplin said...

Realy enjoyed this Tom. A sense of time aswell, both foreboding and historical.

zevstar said...

sometimes i worry about the arbitrariness of our concept of time
continents and earth plates are the sand we know are the rocks
fall on and off bigger stones
we bring all thoughts to the sea
where we can see enough to know
time only dances
time only
time

TC said...

Steve,

About that curious "grammar" of positions (your angle, my angle) which now it seems intertangles our respective end-of-the-continental projects... it starts to feel almost "organic" (fungus growth or plankton proliferation?)...anyway I've been thinking further about the small daily variations in your sequence in relation to those plankton foam bubbles in the "color interference" post.

Have left a note for you there.

TC said...

Leigh,

Yes, it's probably my age but I'm definitely feeling a heavy groundswell of the "historical"... the rolling weight of time rather than the exhilarated liftoff of the new year... as in the saying "I'm history" (said by the comic figure Father Time?).

"Don't know much about History..." but...

And then, "Don't Look Back".

How tiresome is gravity, the hills and everything else inexorably sinking. We have to stand on tip-toe to see anything. And who is capable.

The poet Herrick half-joked that the Old Sun was just a-setting when the joys of Springtime were to be had, thus missing the pleasures of the calendar.

(Are we having Springtime yet?)

TC said...

...on the other hand:

"we bring all thoughts to the sea
where we can see enough to know
time only dances"

I think I like Zevstar's visualization of time a lot better than TC's.

It appears that in this alleged Multiverse, "by this time" we can begin to attempt to learn to be kind enough (or intelligent enough) to say, To each her/his own universe.

Some nights I wish mine had a door in the wall that opened into that dancing universe next door...

zevstar said...

tom-
i thought this blog was multi-versal?

Journalism Dog

What life is this life
why has it dropped here
who may survive it
with out knowing when
or how high?

My dog gives my foot a happy lick
not caring about my good deeds
or shame.

TC said...

Zev,

Absolutely multi-re-versal at all times.

I believe your dog loves you because of your good deeds.

(You have now caused me to imagine a new genre: canine verse composed by someone who has more than one dog: multi-doggerel.)

billymills said...

Some lines of mine, if I may, Tom:

It is a movement. It rises. Stone floats. It flows. Don't argue .
There it is.

It sits & waits. A small one: see it. Old Bawn. Balrothery.
Templeogue.

Gorse & pine. A map of its contours. Ruin. Wisps of smoke.
Pine again. Road.

Brown-yellow. Yellow. A green. Another. Others.
It is pressure. Petrified.

What is a mountain? Stone flows; folds. A name. It rises.

It divides. It is divided. Rubbed down. Bare. Streaked
limestone. Granite.

Six. Or three. Or none. A mass of extruded matter. A wave.
Irregular. Don't argue.

It is a sentence: syntax, grammar, meaning. It has no meaning.

Clouds gather. Lift. Gather. A frame. Surface irregularities.
Go to it. It will not.

It will not come. It is coming. A process. Fact.

Shape traced. Faintly. Stone delineates. Cleft.

TC said...

Beautiful poem, many thanks. You're right, one can't argue with stone.

This by way of continuing the geological conversation... descending to the introduction of the humans, object: excavation.

Mary said...

One of my favorites of yours I've seen so far. Interesting read alongside "After the Deluge".

Geology aside (or not) I wonder if it's possible to "truly see nothing of what we have crossed over for the first time." (What an incredible grouping of words.) I suppose it could be, and that might account for the state of the country, or a reader. But how might memory figure into the equation?

This is what I love about the poems that speak to me: the immediate sudden jolt that sends so many parts of me scrambling.

TC said...

'Geology aside (or not) I wonder if it's possible to "truly see nothing of what we have crossed over for the first time." (What an incredible grouping of words.) I suppose it could be, and that might account for the state of the country, or a reader. But how might memory figure into the equation?'



Mary, thanks very much for your perceptive comment, which catches the central ambiguity here. I suppose the poem is suggesting the exaggerated (absurd) idea that once the Coast Range is sufficiently eroded by time, it will no longer be possible, even in imagination, to have a vantage from which to look back east at those stretches across which the pioneers came. There is usually a personal element mixed into such absurd poetic ideas, and that is also the case here: "memory," as you have guessed, certainly, plays a part -- the memory of one's peregrinations and wanderings, making less and less sense with the passing of the years. But as you have fathomed, the poem also projects a larger sense of looking back, hinting perhaps of a present inability (or unwillingness?) to look objectively at a history (collective, not only personal) that may now begin to appear somewhat less "progressive," when seen in overview, than had once been assumed.

I do appreciate your attention to this poem. You have caused me to pay attention also.

SarahA said...

A sense of moments passing within a time.
And you know how I read this.....'That had been thought endless'........'that had been thoughtless' I never read the 'end' until 'leave your comment' box was up!
And I am thinking; does it always have to be so?
'And truly see nothing
Of what we have crossed over
For the first time'
It seems so *sigh*

TC said...

SarahA,

Indeed it is a bit of a *sigh* post, you see what a weak thing I am, when you are not around to inform my view of things I am afraid I do lose heart.

Corrective steps are in order and will be taken as soon as I find my heart again, you are forever providing the helpful maps, with your brave example, so perhaps it will be not too long now... and we may *dance* (said he, tripping over his own feet once again).

Zephirine said...

"There are plenty of ruined houses, but there are no ruined stones"...

TC said...

Zeph,

You can say that again.