Earth’s Damp Mound

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Earth’s Damp Mound
for P.M.

I. February 1998.
That week it rained white petals
and loss completed its

turn, the words finding themselves
alone, without measure,

without force, and no body to compare.
Though strangers spoke I could not.

Is this destiny, an unopened
mouth filled with

pebbles, a pear tree
deflowered by the wind? The earth’s

damp mound settles among your bones.

II. Count the Almonds
What bitterness
preserves your sleep,

reflects the eye’s
task along the inward thread?

Not the unspoken, but the unsayable.

Curious path, curious seed.
A shadow separates

to join another, and in the darker
frame carries the uncertain

further, past silence, past touch,
leaving its hunger alert and unfed,

allowing us our own protections.

III. The Bowl of Flowering Shadows
Reconciled, and of particular
grace, they lean, placing emphasis on balance,

on layer and focus, on depth of angle
absorbing the elegant darkness,

a lip, an upturned glance, the mirror.

What light caresses, it may destroy.
Even the frailest may alter intent.

So which, of all those you might recall,
if your matter could reform

and place you back into yourself,
would you choose? Forgive me

my selfishness, but I must know.

IV. Requiem
Then, you said, the art of nothingness
requires nothing more

than your greatest effort.
And how, seeing yours, could we,

the remaining, reclaim our
space without encroaching on what

you’ve left? One eye closes, then
the other. One mouth moves and another

speaks. One hears, one listens, the eternal
continuation. Rest, my friend. After.

Prentiss Moore influenced my reading and writing more than he ever realized. We spent many hours talking, eating, arguing, drinking, laughing. Always laughing – he had one of those all-encompassing laughs that invited the world to join in. And it frequently did. Through Prentiss I met in person one of my literary heroes, Gustaf Sobin, whose work Prentiss had of course introduced me to. Those few hours spent with the two of them driving around in my pickup truck, discussing poetry, the Texas landscape, horticulture and the vagaries of the publishing world, are hours I’ll always hold close.

Earth’s Damp Mound first appeared in the anthology Terra Firma.

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41 thoughts on “Earth’s Damp Mound

  1. Loss is very difficult, but in these lines you add a superior feeling to our lives that shapes it into the meaning that makes a difference. Lovely poem, Robert:

    Is this destiny, an unopened
    mouth filled with

    pebbles, a pear tree
    deflowered by the wind?

    That “a pear tree / deflowered by the wind” made me think of Whitman’s elegy to Lincoln – When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d where in stanza three he tells us “A sprig with its flower I break”:

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
    With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
    With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    A sprig with its flower I break.

    Like

  2. Loss is very difficult, but in these lines you add a superior feeling to our lives that shapes it into the meaning that makes a difference. Lovely poem, Robert

    Is this destiny, an unopened
    mouth filled with

    pebbles, a pear tree
    deflowered by the wind?

    That “a pear tree / deflowered by the wind” made me think of Whitman’s elegy to Lincoln – When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d where in stanza three he tells us “A sprig with its flower I break”:

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
    With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
    With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    A sprig with its flower I break.

    Like

  3. I am speechless. I can only feeel it all and I somehow feel I would marr the absolute beauty of your words by commenting in mere words. Thank you for this beauty Robert.

    Like

  4. Robert, this is a stunning in memoriam and tribute to Mr. Moore. I can see why it was published/anthologized, as it is brilliant. “Bowl of Flowering Shadows” alone is so striking, I could feast on the plaintive consonance of the “ow,” long and long (as Whitman wrote; yes, I shall quote him, too; it seems very fitting). What a friend and, dare I say it, mentor he must have been. My sincerest condolences, Robert, much after the fact.

    Like

    • I owe him much. Truth be told, I don’t think I ever thought of him as mentor, though of course he was. We were friends who shared some interests. He read widely, and spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about his reading. I absorbed as much as I could. I think he gave much more than he received.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on starings and commented:
    Dear Robert,
    I hope you don’t mind the re-blog? Bas has thoroughly enjoyed following your blog, taking his time reading your poems and recommending me to visit, now I see why.
    Best,
    Kim

    Like

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