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Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

SUN WIRE additional stone poems

September 16, 2001

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past sumac and sunflowers, trees and bushes, turning colors --

it is autumn, the season of leaves

the color of your eyes come into my mind and seep through my body

and the usual emptiness fills with pleasure

and the pleasure continues and grows as I call up the colors one by one

brown of chestnuts

green of olives

red of wine

gold of paintings by Duccio and Martini

I am transported by color to Italy, Tuscany, Siena

orange of terracotta, the huge pots you wanted to bring home

too heavy, I said

and you laughed

your inimitable, irresistible, irrepressible laugh

that filled the air wherever you were --

field and schoolhouse, living room and dining table,

where it added to the pleasure of candles, food, and wine

and started the juices that flowed into dancing

that was the source of your laugh, love

you laughed, we danced, drawing closer and closer

hands arms heads bodies legs entwined

if only the dance of love could go on

but it stopped in mid-step

you took your leave

with reluctance and grace

and a promise to return as a leaf

so I drive and walk and dance alone

searching the leaves

and finding the colors of your eyes and memories

I drive past the field of tallgrass -- gold green orange red brown --

where I scattered your ashes one bright autumn day

I arrive at the schoolhouse, which looks like an outpost of ancient Rome

as you worked on the stones, you discovered the kinship of wall builders

and transferred your love for the stones of Italy to the stones of Kansas

I cross the threshold you crossed

walk along the walls where you worked

look out the window as you would have looked

touch the stone that you touched

dance in your footsteps around the floor

-- Joan Stone

Mortitxol

A mourner's dance from Valencia that used to be performed at the death of a child in religious celebration of the passing of a pure soul into heaven.

They enter two at a time

in couples

but each man and woman is alone

they walk slowly

feeling the ground

the women are in black shawls

bound in their grief

the men keep their arms close to their bodies

the gaze is down

the couples cluster like people in a room after a funeral

along the back wall

with one couple more forward

are they the parents of the dead child?

there is music playing

but the dance is silent

the couples drift apart imperceptibly

the men seek each other out

and so do the women

the men begin a rhythmic pattern in the feet

they surge forward and back

making half-wheels

broken circles

with their arms

as one arm rises, the other falls

they have castanets in their hands

but the castanets are silent

the women have begun moving

not dancing

until they take off their shawls

then feet come to life

torsos

arms

the gaze leaves the ground

and the castanets begin

the men dance

forward and back

forward and back

the pattern of fields and crops

their arms pulse

up and down

up and down

the pattern of growing and dying

they charge through the line of women

who twist and turn and change places

dancing from side to side

weaving

gesticulating

remembering the birth

mourning the death

of the child

a circle forms imperceptibly

men and women join together

the dance intensifies

faster foot rhythms

bigger arm and leg gestures

more insistent clacking of the castanets

a wrenching, whirling dance of death

around and around

an inner circle and an outer circle

death has brought people together

the community has taken on the burden of grief

now the pure soul of the dead child can pass into heaven

bodies, gaze, arms lift to the sky!

-- Joan Stone

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